“There will be times when it goes against you,” said Alan Pardew, with no hint of understatement.
First Sunderland, then Senegal, and eventually Swansea had their pick at his football club yesterday.
All left victorious. Tyneside is just not designed for such deflation. The club fought until 1.40pm with Senegal’s football federation. At stake was Papiss Cissé and emails that Newcastle claim to have sent to his nation about his inability to play in their friendly with Niger in midweek because of injury.
They sent medical reports. Senegal said they did not arrive. As a result, he was blocked from playing, officially, 80 minutes before kick-off. By then the Under-18 side had lost 6-1 to their biggest rivals. They were not good omens, not for a side missing key players already in Fabricio Coloccini (suspended) and Yohan Cabaye and Jonas Gutierrez (injured).
And certainly not for a side that does not resemble the one that swashbuckled their way to a fifth-place finish last season.
Newcastle gambled in the summer by not investing, and it shows. Swansea had won once in their previous nine Premier League games before arriving at St James’ Park, but the side they played against was tactically uncomfortable, not to mention shorn of the personnel to ride out a poor run of form.
Defeat, and it was deserved, made it one victory from their last seven games at Premier League level. West Ham last Sunday, Swansea yesterday; they are losses that do not go down well, not when the team are struggling.
“In a managerial career at any football club there will be times when it goes against you,” said Pardew. “A lot has gone against us this week. Jonas was so close to playing. Papiss was taken away from us. We had a lot of things that did not work for us this week. In terms of the performance, it was better than West Ham. We were unlucky not to score before they did. We were in a good shape to win.
“Of course there is a concern, You don’t want to lose any home game. We have lost two on the trot. When you have a difficult period like were are having you need your senior players around you. We haven’t got them. The fans were great. They could see we had a good application. We pressed Swansea everywhere we could. It was only when the goal went in we lost our shape.”
Yet Swansea always looked like they had the final result in them. In the first half, they cut through Newcastle’s defence on the counter. Michu and Nathan Dyer could have put them ahead. In the 58th minute, the usually dependable Tim Krul sliced a clearance to the in-form Pablo Hernandez. He ran and crossed perfectly for Michu to crash his header into the Newcastle goal.
It felt deserved. Hatem Ben Arfa probed for the home side but there was little rhyme and no reason. Michu should have doubled the lead in the 77th minute but, for once in the afternoon, fluffed his lines.
Three minutes from time, Danny Graham, a supporter of Newcastle from Gateshead, passed to Hernandez, took a return ball, shot low to Krul’s left and, when the ball was saved, it fell to Dutch midfielder Jonathan De Guzman, who scored.
“That was out best away performance of the season, even better than at Queens Park Rangers,” said Michael Laudrup. “I could talk about Pablo but I thought we had a lot of fantastic performances. I still believe we will get better in the second half of the season. Players will know each other even better.”
Only in the second minute of injury time did Newcastle’s consolation come, when Demba Ba headed past Gerhard Tremmel, after Sylvain Marveaux had hit the crossbar. They were beaten before then. It was the day’s theme.
Newcastle (4-1-4-1): Krul; Simpson (Bigirimana, 74), Williamson, Taylor, Santon; Tioté; Ben Arfa, Anita, Sammy Ameobi (Marveaux, 80), Ferguson (Shola Ameobi, 46); Ba.
Swansea (4-4-1-1): Tremmel; Angel, Monk, Williams, Davies; Dyer (Routledge, 63), Britton, De Guzman, Hernandez; Michu (Graham, 82); Shechter (Agustien, 66).
Referee: Phil Dowd
Man of the match: Hernandez (Swansea)
Match rating: 6/10