5 Things Newcastle Need to Learn After Derby Defeat
When Fabio Borini's shot flew past Tim Krul on Sunday afternoon, Alan Pardew became the first manager since Joe Harvey in 1967 to lose back-to-back Wear-Tyne derbies.
Here, we look at things that Newcastle need to learn in order to improve ahead of the tough fixture list.
Feel free to debate.
Papiss Cisse Needs to Return to the First Team
Cisse has been in poor form this season, but Newcastle have struggled without a central striker.
Arguably the area where Newcastle were at their worst this weekend was up front.
Pardew tried an experimentary front three of Loic Remy, Hatem Ben Arfa and Yoan Gouffran, which doesn't seem too risky at first glance.
But when you consider that Ben Arfa was played as a centre-forward, with Remy from the left and Gouffran from the right, then blame can certainly be levelled at the Magpies manager for getting his tactics wrong on the big day.
Newcastle lacked a genuine centre-forward, someone who can hold the ball up and get in the box when the wide players have chances to deliver crosses. Remy had filled this role in previous weeks, but after his goals came from the left wing, the natural move was to start the Frenchman out wide.
However, rather than bring Papiss Cisse back into the fold, Pardew came up short with his selection of the diminutive Ben Arfa in the middle. The former Marseille man was crowded out and unable to affect the game in any way until the second half.
Although Cisse has been dropped for good reason—the Senegal striker hasn't scored all season—it may be time to recall him to the first team and give him a chance to play through his poor form.
Moussa Sissoko Needs to Be Dropped
Sissoko has been far from his best this season.
When Moussa Sissoko first pulled on a Newcastle shirt, it looked like the Magpies had a serious player on their hands.
Powerful, strong and quick, Sissoko bagged two goals in his first three appearances for his new club and had opponents scared to go near him in the centre of the pitch.
This season has been the exact opposite, though, as the former Toulouse midfielder has struggled to make any impact on Newcastle's games so far.
He barely touched the ball against Sunderland and was hooked at half-time, a sign that Pardew is beginning to lose patience with him.
What makes Sissoko's presence in the Newcastle team all the more strange is that the Magpies have a player sitting on the bench who started the season in the best form of his Newcastle career—Vurnon Anita.
The former Ajax man took Yohan Cabaye's place when the Frenchman was flirting with a move to Arsenal and looked in top form until Pardew dropped him in favour of the Sissoko/Cabaye/Tiote midfield trio.
Hopefully, Pardew will see the error of his ways in the coming days and start Anita over Sissoko when Newcastle resume Premier League action on Saturday against Chelsea.
Cheick Tiote Is Fantastic with the Captain's Armband
Tiote has been excellent in the past two games for Newcastle.
Over the past two years, no Newcastle player has been more out of form than Cheick Tiote.
However, having been awarded the captain's armband in the absence of Fabricio Coloccini, the Ivorian has rediscovered the kind of form that made him almost untouchable in his debut season.
He turned in a stellar performance when Newcastle went down to 10 men against Liverpool last week and was one of very few that came out of the Derby Day defeat to Sunderland with any shred of credit.
The tough tackling seems to have returned to his game, and the yellow card count he was once famous for has also settled, as he now escapes the referee's book more often than not.
Tiote must now be one of the first names on the Newcastle team sheet, although he could do with inspiring his midfield team-mates as they struggle to match the former FC Twente midfielder's good form.
Davide Santon Must Improve
Santon has looked far from solid at left-back this season.
As we all know, Newcastle's defence has been makeshift at the best of times so far this season. Suspensions and injuries have prevented Pardew from fielding his first-choice back four regularly, but that hasn't affected the continued inclusion of Davide Santon at left-back.
The Italian has never looked like the most gifted of defenders since joining from Inter Milan three seasons ago, but his form has temporarily reflected his big potential.
However, Santon's recent form has been poor, and with the return to fitness of Massadio Haidara, he could face a fight to keep his place in the Newcastle team.
A right-footed left-back is never the easiest player to give the benefit of the doubt to, and this became apparent against Sunderland at the weekend when Santon got into good positions down the left flank before killing momentum by having to cut back onto his stronger side.
Santon's attacking side of his game tends to be stronger than his defensive, so it may turn out that in the long term, his best position may be on the wing.
For now, though, Santon must make drastic improvements to his all-round game if he is to keep his place in the Magpies side.
Coloccini's leadership was missed against Sunderland.
There were many things that went wrong on Derby Day, but the cardinal sin was the lack of heart the Newcastle players showed.
Sunderland were first to every ball, pressed high up the pitch and had untouchable motivation, which led to their fast start and early goal.
Motivation on Derby Day should be the easiest thing to instill in a matchday squad, so why did Newcastle lack it?
Was it Pardew's lack of motivational skill? Was it too many foreign (particularly French) players not understanding the importance of the fixture? Either way, it has led to Pardew carrying the unwanted title of being the first manager since 1967 to lose back-to-back derbies.
Something must change soon amid these questions, or the supporters of the "Pardew out" campaign will start to gather numbers, and the Toon manager will come under increasing pressure as he tries to lead Newcastle into the higher reaches of the Premier League.