Newcastle manager Pardew endures miserable return to Southampton
Southampton 2 Newcastle United 0: Southampton appear to want to erase Alan Pardew from their club history and the Saints team he used to manage treated his Newcastle side just as dismissively on the pitch yesterday. Adam Lallana and Gaston Ramirez scored the goals that took Saints out of the bottom three, while the home side hit the woodwork three times and kept Tim Krul, the Newcastle goalkeeper, fully occupied.
Pardew was sacked as Southampton manager in August 2010 after laying the foundations of the team that Nigel Adkins led to back-to-back promotions. But apart from a solitary mention in Adkins' manager's notes, Pardew did not feature in the official programme.
His team, for their part, hardly featured in the match. Tired after Thursday's Europa League tie with Maritimo and weakened by injuries to Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye and the suspension of Fabricio Coloccini, the captain, they were no match for a Southampton side buoyed by last weekend's 3-1 victory away to QPR.
At least the home fans had not forgotten Pardew's contribution, applauding him to the dugout, but that was as good as it got. "It was nice of the fans," Pardew said. "I thought it was all good until the game kicked off. The intensity and energy that Southampton put on the pitch was a problem for us. We were short of bodies and maybe Thursday took a bit of edge off us and we were second best."
A cynic might suggest that it is just as well for Pardew that he signed a new eight-year contract just before Newcastle embarked on a run that has seen them win only one of their past eight games, losing the past three. "Of course we're worried," he said. "Last year we didn't have many injuries, which was part of why we finished fifth, but this year we've had nothing but setbacks and it looks as if Steven Taylor [hamstring] is another one. We've only got that dressing room to take to [Stoke City] on Wednesday, another tough game. We have the greatest fans in the country and we're going to need them."
Lallana, who matured into a regular first-team player under Pardew, cruelly repaid his old manager with a man-of-the-match display. He was behind most of Saints' moves, ably supported by Jason Puncheon and Ramirez, and all three were involved in the first goal, Krul rushing out after 34 minutes to kick clear from Puncheon only to be stranded as Nathaniel Clyne returned the ball into the penalty area. Mike Williamson could only respond by heading the ball to Ramirez, Southampton's record signing, who squared for Lallana to score from close range.
Paulo Gazzaniga saved well from Vurnon Anita early in the second half, but Krul, as he had been in the first half, was much the busier of the goalkeepers. A second goal had to come, and on the hour Lallana's cute flick set up Puncheon to cross low from the left. Krul could only parry the ball to Ramirez who netted from four yards.
Puncheon, with Lallana again the provider, then hit the post before Gazzaniga dived low to his right to deny Davide Santon a headed consolation and guarantee Southampton's first clean sheet of the season. Not to be outdone, Krul saved from Steve Davis and Lallana, and deserved his luck when Jose Fonte's header rebounded from the bar.
Seven points out of the past nine available suggest that Southampton are getting the measure of the Premier League at last. "We were punished in a big way at the start of the season and this shows how much the players have learned," Adkins said. "They're improving all the time."
Bookings: So Fonte, Ramirez. NU Williamson, Tiote.
Man of match Lallana.
Match rating 8/10.
Possession: So 50%. NU 50%.
On target: So 8. NU 3.
Ref M Atkinson (W Yorkshire).