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Pardew: Tiote must improve disciplinary record
ALAN Pardew has instructed Cheik Tiote to improve his dreadful disciplinary record in the wake of Sunday's first-half dismissal at Sunderland.
Tiote received the second red card of his Newcastle career when he mistimed a lunge at Steven Fletcher, and the tough-tackling midfielder has also racked up an alarming 27 yellow cards in 54 matches since joining the Magpies.
Last season, he received more bookings than any other player in the Premier League, and his six starts this term have already brought four yellow cards and a red.
He will be suspended for the next three Premier League matches, but remains eligible for European games and will start tomorrow's Europa League tie with Club Brugge.
Pardew will stress the need for increased discipline before kick off, and is clearly becoming tired of having to make do without the services of arguably his most influential midfielder.
Asked whether he had any concerns about Tiote's disciplinary record, he said: “Yes. I will be talking to him before the Brugge game. We talk to him before every game. We talk to him at every half-time and I'll be talking to him again.
“It's not a laughing matter because he's one of our big players and I can't have him not playing. It could be costly and he needs to understand that.”
Tiote's importance to Newcastle's preferred style of play means Pardew must strike a delicate balance when attempting to modify his midfielder's approach.
Clearly, he is no use at all when he is sitting in the stands, and while Gael Bigirimana is likely to step into the breach for forthcoming matches against West Brom, Liverpool and West Ham, the youngster – nicknamed 'little Cheik' on the Newcastle training ground – is not yet a match for his namesake.
For all his hot-headedness, Sunderland have missed Lee Cattermole in the last three games, and given that the rest of the Newcastle midfield is weighted more towards creative players who like to attack, Tiote is arguably more important to the Magpies than Cattermole is to the Black Cats.
The Ivory Coast international clearly needs to temper his approach, but so much of his game revolves around high-energy pressing and last-ditch tackling that to remove the potential for a foul entirely is to neuter so much of what makes Tiote effective.
Like Cattermole, very few of his bookings are for violent conduct – most relate to slightly mistimed tackles which are regarded very differently now to how they would have been interpreted in the relatively recent past.
Back then, referees would almost certainly have let a first offence go with only a brief telling off. Now, the immediate reaction is to reach for the notebook.
“I am not going to make any comment about why he got sent off on Sunday, but I do think that part of the game has changed,” said Pardew. “I can remember Norman Hunter absolutely smashing Jimmy Greaves all over the place – it was part and parcel of the game. Now that wasn't right, but where we are at the moment, almost every mistimed tackle is a booking.
“There is going to be this type of challenge. Referees need to understand that it's a genuine attempt to get the ball and nothing more. That's why we devised the award of a free-kick. It's not necessarily a yellow card.
“The sanitisation of the game is a little bit worrying for me because I like the physical side of things. I think we all do as supporters.”