Belfast Telegraph

Coloccini calls for fans' backing

Newcastle skipper Fabricio Coloccini has pleaded with fans planning to stage mass protests against manager Alan Pardew on Saturday to get behind the team instead.

The Magpies entertain Hull at St James' Park, with Pardew facing a furious revolt which he has described as "mass hysteria" after a poor start to the new Barclays Premier League season.

However, despite groups of fans preparing to make their views abundantly clear in a series of demonstrations, Coloccini has called for a united front.

Writing in his programme notes, the Argentinian said: "It will not be an easy game because Hull are a good team. It is very important that you are right behind us and support the team and the players who are on the pitch.

"You want to win every game, just like us, and we all want the best for this football club.

"We are football fans too, so we understand that things can get frustrating. But please, support the team for 90 minutes inside the stadium. We need your support. "

Coloccini's request is unlikely to cut much ice in certain quarters, with supporters rounding on Pardew and owner Mike Ashley with a new-look squad struggling to make an impact.

The manager was subjected to a broadside during the final home game of last season against Cardiff, and the atmosphere is likely to be even more rebellious this weekend.

Steve Bruce knows better than most what it feels like to be hounded out of the North East, but that will not stop the Hull boss trying to turn up the heat on Pardew with a "mercenary" win.

For Bruce it presents a difficult situation.

He feels for his opposite number, having been jeered out of the door at neighbouring Sunderland three years ago, but as a Geordie and boyhood Newcastle fan has also been touted as a possible successor.

He has already gone on record branding that speculation as "disrespectful" with Pardew still in a job, but is not above turning the negative atmosphere at Newcastle to Hull's advantage.

"I know what he's going through after being in the North East and it's not easy. It's not an easy place to manage," he said.

"We all understand it's a results-based business but some of the nonsense that goes with it, I have to say, is ridiculous.

"Unfortunately with the way social media is and the way the media is there is a huge appetite for what we call nonsense. It comes with the territory, but you have to say in the North East it seems to quadruple: when there's a crisis, there's a crisis, and I suppose that comes from the huge support they have got.

"It's a difficult, difficult place to manage. But we have to try and take advantage of that, of course we do. We have to be mercenary enough to try and do that.

"The other stuff is not enjoyable to watch from afar. Over the years he's done a decent job has Alan but I think that's the nature of the beast, especially in the North East, and I can say that because I'm from there."

Bruce certainly does not give the impression of a man desperate to inherit the reins at his childhood club but he considers the very question to be in poor taste.

He said: "I was appalled when I read all that nonsense, but what can I do about it? I've done my best to try and calm the whole situation.

"It seems to be because I'm a Geordie, that every time the job comes up since 2002 I'm linked with it because I'm from there and it's the team I supported as a boy. That will never change, but as for all the other nonsense I find it hugely disrespectful."

As if they were needed, there could yet be two additional sub-plots to the match.

Pardew was handed a seven-game ban for headbutting Hull's David Meyler on the touchline last season, though the midfielder's slide down the pecking order means the pair may not come into such close contact this time.

And if Meyler is in the stands rather than in the matchday squad, he will be joined by Hatem Ben Arfa, who was sent on loan from Newcastle to Hull after falling sorely out of favour with Pardew.

Most Magpies fans would probably have preferred the player to have outlasted his manager and his presence should whip up added resentment.

Bruce, though, was keen to clear up two things - that Ben Arfa would not be sitting alongside him in the dugout and had no option to end his loan should there be a managerial change at United.

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