Newcastle prepare to give Mancini's men hot reception

 

There is a scene in the original Rocky film in which Apollo Creed is sitting in an office, planning what he will wear for his walk to the ring to fight an unheard-of from Philadelphia.

On a small TV screen, Rocky Balboa is beating seven shades out of some hanging carcasses. Creed's trainer Tony is is transfixed. Creed is oblivious. It is hard to imagine Roberto Mancini being caught quite so unaware but last week in West London Newcastle smashed bones while in Mancester the Premier League title race was officially declared back on.

There is a potential world of pain waiting for Manchester City if they lose focus at St James' Park today. The intensity of Vincent Kompany in the Mancunian derby on Monday night suggests that is unlikely, but walking into Newcastle's lair represents a very different challenge to the tame effort of Manchester United against their rivals.

Tyneside is revving up to something approaching fever pitch. Newcastle need victory to keep pushing for what would be an extraordinary third-placed finish, and a city and a football club have unified in the desire to do so.

"We have kept resetting our goals, we have kept pushing ourselves and we have got players who are hungry," said Alan Pardew. "We have fed that hunger with different tactical plans and different agendas and we have had a training-ground philosophy where we won't accept a day off. That does happen at football clubs. I'm more experienced, I delegate better now. At Charlton, West Ham and Reading I would be more hands on. Sometimes you have to take yourself away and think about the game.

"The team gets tight, it gets loose, and you have to pull it back together. The two days after Wigan [when they lost 4-0] were probably the most important days we've had in the last 10 weeks. We had been on a roll. When you get beat you have to ask questions, and we did, and we came up with the right answers. Myself, the staff and the players all contributed into what went wrong and we corrected it. You can't do that at many groups, I tell you.

"You can still say things people don't like but it is about saying it in the right way. We said it in the right way and we did something about it. There is no way you can go from the Wigan result to the Chelsea result [where they won 2-0] unless you have had an analytical approach to what went wrong. We did that and got it right. Sometimes you can't do that. If the pack is a bit loose, sometimes you can't pull it back together. But when the pack is like this, when there is honesty in the room, you get honest answers.

"I could sit here all day and talk about the virtues of my players, but Yohan Cabaye is certainly a special player in terms of his mentality and the way he plays the game. He has been a massive asset to us.

"When you are playing against top quality technicians like [City] are, it is very important to show them respect and put cover on each other," added Pardew. "You have to expect to get beat as a defender, that James Perch is going to get beat by [David] Silva, that David Santon is going to get beat by [Sergio] Aguero, but there is somebody else there to help out. If we can do that and do it well enough, then we have a chance of getting a clean sheet.

"That has gone undetected with all the Papiss Cissé goals. We have got 15 clean sheets, that is the best ever for Newcastle in a 38-game season. That speaks volumes for the work-rate of this team.

"I know it is going to be electric on Sunday. I know Manchester City have got applauded for the atmosphere they have had this season. Well they ain't seen nothing yet. Of course I'm excited. My players are excited.

"The motivation for this game for me is that I don't have to do anything. What we have to get right is the call at half-time and the call on substitutes. That could be significant."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us