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."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash