Pardew back from the brink

. . . as Mour­inho plays down ti­tle talk

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

London — Six weeks ago, with new­cas­tle United in the Premier League’s rel­e­ga­tion zone and still look­ing for a first win of the sea­son, Alan Pardew seemed highly un­likely to reach his fourth an­niver­sary as man­ager in de­cem­ber.

Mav­er­ick club owner Mike Ash­ley, the bil­lion­aire founder of sports­wear firm Sports di­rect, was un­der siege from fans de­mand­ing Pardew’s head and there were reg­u­lar noisy protests at both home and away games.

For once, how­ever, in the volatile world of foot­ball where trig­ger-happy chair­man fire at the first sign of trou­ble, a man­ager has been given time to fight his way out of trou­ble.

Sun­day’s 2-0 vic­tory over West Bromwich Al­bion, New­cas­tle’s fifth suc­ces­sive win in all com­pe­ti­tions, lifted them to within two points of the top four and means Pardew has ev­ery rea­son to be­lieve he will still be in charge next month.

Hav­ing been sacked by three of his four pre­vi­ous clubs, West Ham United, Charl­ton Ath­letic and Southamp­ton, the for­mer Crys­tal Palace mid­fielder had to face down op­po­si­tion from the start as a sur­prise ap­point­ment in de­cem­ber 2010.

He seemed to have won them over by lifting new­cas­tle, who have not won a ma­jor trophy since 1969, into fifth place at the end of his first full sea­son in May 2012.

That earned him two Man­ager of the Year awards in Eng­land and took the club back into Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion.

Rum­blings were heard from sup­port­ers when the north-east­ern club slumped to 16th place a year later and last sea­son they were well-placed at the half­way stage but suf­fered from los­ing out­stand­ing French mid­fielder Yo­han Cabaye to Paris St Ger­main.

Amid me­dia re­ports that he had two matches to save his job, Pardew won both, but in­curred a seven-game ban for head­but­ting an op­po­si­tion player, Hull City’s david Meyler.

Los­ing seven of the fi­nal eight games of the sea­son to fin­ish 10th meant he needed a good start to this sea­son to re­store any faith but with striker Papiss Cisse and new sign­ing Siem de Jong in­jured, new­cas­tle were bot­tom after five games.

It was mid-oc­to­ber be­fore their first win, at home to Le­ices­ter City, but that be­came the first of five in suc­ces­sion, with close-sea­son sign­ing Ay­oze Perez from Tener­ife scor­ing three in four games.

The way he back-heeled the open­ing goal at West Brom on Sun­day was in­dica­tive of the con­fi­dence flow­ing through the side. “We find our­selves right up the league where a club of this size should be,” Pardew told Sky Sports af­ter­wards.

“After a dif­fi­cult start we were look­ing at statis­tics and they weren’t sug­gest­ing we were in the po­si­tion we should have been in.

“It is dif­fi­cult to say that when you are un­der so much pres­sure and the fans are almost re­volt­ing.

“We have got a re­ally young team, quite an ex­cit­ing team and it is very nice to man­age.”

All of which was dif­fi­cult to be­lieve just a cou­ple of months ago.

Mean­while, Chelsea man­ager Jose Mour­inho re­fused to en­ter­tain talk of an un­beaten sea­son after see­ing his side strengthen their po­si­tion at the Premier League sum­mit by win­ning 2-1 at Liver­pool.

diego Costa’s 67th-minute goal gave Chelsea vic­tory at An­field last Satur­day, help­ing his side ex­tend an un­beaten league run stretch­ing back to March and fu­elling com­par­isons with Arse­nal’s 2003-04 ‘In­vin­ci­bles’.

But Mour­inho be­lieves that sug­ges­tions his team could em­u­late that Arse­nal side by go­ing through an en­tire sea­son with­out los­ing a game are fan­ci­ful.

“No chance,” he said when asked about his side’s prospects of avoid­ing de­feat be­tween now and May 24.

“It’s pos­si­ble to be cham­pi­ons. We want to play for that, but in mod­ern foot­ball I don’t be­lieve in go­ing un­beaten all sea­son.

“One day we will lose, but the next game we will win again. We will play badly, but we will re­cover our game be­cause we are a strong team.

“We a sta­ble team, but I have been in the game so long I know the de­feat will ar­rive and the bad mo­ment will ar­rive. We will be ready for that. We be­lieve in ev­ery­one. We are a happy camp. We be­lieve in the play­ers.”

Vic­tory moved Chelsea 15 points above Liver­pool, who fin­ished run­ners-up in the league last sea­son and had ap­peared likely to win the ti­tle be­fore los­ing this cor­re­spond­ing fix­ture late in the cam­paign.

How­ever, Mour­inho is not ready to dis­count the threat posed by Bren­dan Rodgers’s club or claim that the ti­tle race will be a com­fort- able one.

“If this was the Span­ish league or Ger­man league or Por­tuguese league, when you have two teams try­ing to be­come cham­pi­ons, then you are almost there with 15 points,” he said.

“But this is Eng­land. Ev­ery match is dif­fi­cult. In Eng­land, you can lose points in ev­ery game. It’s not (just) about Liver­pool; it’s Man City, Man United, Arse­nal, it’s about Tot­ten­ham, it’s about Southamp­ton.

“We are in a good sit­u­a­tion. We have played the four games in Manch­ester, Ever­ton, Liver­pool, City, United. Four very hard matches. But it’s only the start of novem­ber.”

Mour­inho saw Gary Cahill can­cel out Emre Can’s open­ing goal be­fore Costa slammed home the win­ner and he paid spe­cial trib­ute to mid­field­ers Ramires and Cesc Fabre­gas, both of whom played through in­jury.

Rodgers, whose side failed with a strong late penalty claim against Cahill for hand­ball, has en­dured a dif­fi­cult week that also fea­tured a league loss at new­cas­tle United and Cham­pi­ons League de­feat at Real Madrid.

He was widely crit­i­cised for rest­ing key play­ers in the game at Madrid with a view to the Chelsea en­counter, but he in­sisted he would do the same thing again if the sit­u­a­tion arose.

“I’d hope­fully win all three games,” said Rodgers when asked if he would do any­thing dif­fer­ently if given the chance.

“But we plan the play­ers and the team the best we can, so I wouldn’t do any­thing dif­fer­ently at all. We just didn’t get the re­sults. Hope­fully, this will be an ex­pe­ri­ence for us and we will use that to be bet­ter go­ing for­ward.”

Rodgers was also booed by large sec­tions of the An­field crowd when he re­placed the popular Philippe Coutinho in the sec­ond half, in a rare sign of dis­ap­proval by home sup­port­ers to­wards their man­ager. I didn’t feel we were cre­at­ing enough and had to change the mo­men­tum,” he ex­plained.

“The sup­port­ers here are a big part of what we’re do­ing. of course they will be frus­trated. They have seen us lose three games this week. I to­tally un­der­stand that, it is not an is­sue. They give us great support and it is just frus­tra­tion all round.” — SAPA-AFP

Chelsea man­ager Jose Mour­inho new­cas­tle United man­ager alan Pardew

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.