Pardew wants cool heads in derby

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Published: Saturday 20th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has ordered Geordie boy Steven Taylor not to allow the derby atmosphere to get to him as he plots victory over Sunderland.

The Magpies head into Sunday’s pre-Christmas showdown at St James’ Park desperately looking to avoid a fourth successive defeat at the hands of their arch-rivals and intent on righting the wrongs of back-to-back 3-0 home defeats at the hands of the Black Cats with a victory.

Pardew’s current squad, despite its cosmopolitan nature, has the most sizeable home-grown contingent the club has been able to boast for some time, and while the manager insists that will not necessarily be a factor in the game, he admits he may have to instruct one or two of the locals to curb their enthusiasm.

He said: “If I’m honest, I don’t think it’s a factor in the game, but I will be looking at one or two who maybe get emotionally involved.

“Probably the one who worries me the most is Steven Taylor. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he plays like that sometimes in this fixture.

“I’ve spoken to him about it. I think this time around he will be a lot calmer and if he plays, he will be in better shape.”

Central defender Taylor has been a target for some Sunderland fans ever since he offered a less than complimentary assessment of their squad in a pre-derby interview in October 2012, although he appears to revel in role of pantomime villain.

However, both sets of fans and the two clubs have worked hard to try to take some of the poison out of a fixture which has too often boiled over off the pitch in recent times.

Bridges have been built in the wake of the MH17 Malaysia Airlines disaster in which Newcastle supporters John Alder and Liam Sweeney were among 298 passengers and crew to lose their lives, with Black Cats fans raising more than £33,000 for a memorial.

Pardew, who revealed his players will not be bussed into the ground as they have been for recent derbies, said: “We are trying to get away from all that unsavoury stuff.

“They have come across the bridge from Sunderland and you have to pay credit to them for what happened over John Alder and Liam Sweeney.

“I would like to think we would meet them there and treat this as exactly what it is – a football match. I’ve tried to follow the pattern of the security, the police and fans and everything said online.

“We won’t take a bus to the game this time, we will turn up as normal and hopefully it will be a fantastic football match, although the passion will be no less, the intensity will be no less, which makes it unique in itself, more than any game I’ve ever played in or managed.

“Therefore, whatever the result, we will shake hands.”

John O’Shea will run out into the white heat of the Tyne-Wear derby having already had a taste of the fierce rivalry this week.

The Sunderland skipper will lead his team out at St James’ Park on Sunday looking for an unprecedented fourth successive victory over neighbours Newcastle in a game which could go a long way to determining how enjoyable Christmas is for the respective clubs’ supporters.

But O’Shea and his team-mates have already been left in little doubt as to what is expected by both sets of fans after their traditional hospital visits on both Wearside and Tyneside in the last few days.

The 33-year-old Republic of Ireland international said: “We went on the hospital visits and it’s brilliant seeing the kids in their particular colours whatever hospital we were in, some Sunderland, some Newcastle.

“We went to the RVI [Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary] to the kids’ part and the cancer wards, and the cheer that some of the fans get from seeing us, but also the grief we get as well is brilliant and it puts a big smile on our faces and makes you appreciate what you have in your family when they are happy and healthy, especially at a time like this.

“It could be a kid who’s gone through a terrible time and had some operations and what have you, and he is just looking at you and saying, ‘Look, get a win’, or a kid saying, ‘I hope you lose at the weekend’, whatever the case may be.

“It’s a very humbling experience. It’s one of those things that does make you realise that football is very important, but there are also some other very important things in life as well.”

Published: Saturday 20th December 2014 by The News Editor

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