Newcastle United: A Round Up of the Week's News on Tyneside
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It is rarely quiet on Tyneside and this week has proved no different as Alan Pardew has seen his side dragged into a potential relegation battle.
Saturday's 4-0 defeat away to Stoke City left United worryingly four points about the relegation zone and six points above rock bottom Wigan.
Despite not being considered relegation material just yet by the national press, United fans are beginning to worry after watching their side slip out of the Premier League two years ago despite everyone expecting them to survive.
One win from the last 10 games for Pardew has put him under pressure for the first time in the St. James hot seat.
Fans have criticized the selection of veteran Sol Campbell in the defence who was blamed for the first two goals of the Brittania beating.
Former Ipswich forward Jon Walters managed to get away from him to head home the first before his wayward header hardly helped for the second.
A shadow of the former player, he received a 3/10 in the local newspaper player ratings (not that other players were getting 8/10s for their performances).
No Justice for Joey
Away from the performance, another talking point from the Stoke game revolved around United's tough tackling Joey Barton, who again found himself on the end of over-the-top tackling from the home side and a lack of protection from the referee.
Pardew and Barton were both said to be furious after an apparent off the ball kick by forward Ricardo Fuller when unpunished—with the FA even refusing the act like they did to punish Barton earlier in the season.
The lack of protection given to Barton reminded United fans of a similar visit to Wolves earlier in the season where he was praised for not reacting to the heavy challenges on Mick McCarthy's side.
Irish double trouble
It was not just the defeat which has hurt United, however, Aston Villa loanee Stephen Ireland and Leon Best have also found themselves punished for being photographed during a night out in Newcastle a day before the game along with reserve player Stephen Folan.
Personal opinion after hearing this was "so what." They were injured and not in the side against Stoke the next day, so why shouldn't they go out?
The Irish pair have since apologized for their "tongue in cheek" actions and hopefully a line will now be drawn under the incident as Ireland finally prepared for his Newcastle debut vs. Wolves next weekend.
United boss Pardew said: “There will be discipline involved, for sure, but I want to see all three together in my office before I say anything more."
In other NUFC news this week, James Tavenier has been recalled from his loan at local Conference Premier neighbours Gateshead following James Perch's three-game suspension following his red card against Manchester United.
The flying fullback could be on the bench vs. Wolves, but with United not playing this weekend, why they recalled him before letting him play for Gateshead vs. FA Cup giant killers Crawley is unknown.
I suspect it's to ensure he remains injury free between now and then, but the youngster has certainly done enough during his brief stint across the river to suggest he has a bright future.
Great going forward, quick and not afraid of a tackle Tavernier will certainly be able to forge a career in the football league.
Gateshead boss Ian Bogie said: "He’s got all the tools necessary to be a modern-day professional footballer. But it’s also about using them in the right fashion."
Another forced break
International football has lead to another two-week break for United following a two-week rest between Everton and Stoke City.
United have found themselves victims of an early FA Cup defeat mixed, with sides they were due to face still competing.
The break should have seen United return refreshed and recharged; however, clearly that was not the case on Saturday.
What damage or benefit another weekend off will have on United is yet to be seen, but the importance of a win over Wolves is massive.
United face a tough run in, but have targeted victories over Wolves and West Brom at home from their remaining eight games to ensure survival next season.
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