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Pardew: Managers have to set the derby-day tone
ALAN Pardew is ready to take the lead in ensuring tomorrow's Wear-Tyne derby is not remembered for all the wrong reasons.
The Newcastle manager was involved in a series of heated scenes in March's last meeting between the Magpies and Sunderland, clashing with rival manager Martin O'Neill when his side were awarded a penalty and again when Shola Ameobi scored a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser.
Things were equally fractious on the field, with Stephane Sessegnon and Lee Cattermole both receiving red cards and a further seven players being booked.
There is every chance of tomorrow's eagerly-awaited encounter being equally keenly fought, and Pardew will be doing everything he can to ensure his players are not cowed by their opponents.
But the Magpies boss accepts both he and O'Neill have a responsibility to set the tone for the occasion, and is confident there will be no repeat of last season's unsavoury touchline tangles.
“It's important that we set the right tone and example, especially after last time,” said Pardew. “I'll be on my guard against that. A last-minute goal or flashpoint can alter proceedings for everybody, but we have to conduct ourselves properly when that flashpoint arrives.
“It was a misunderstanding last season between us (him and O'Neill) I think, but we got it out of the way. That's the right thing to do.
“I do get excited on the touchline and I can't take that away. I'll always be like that, and he's (O'Neill) a bit of a jumper as well. Hopefully, we'll stay in our boxes and keep ourselves to ourselves.”
Last season's Stadium of Light derby was not quite as controversial as the one at St James', although Ryan Taylor's set-piece winner sparked a downturn in Sunderland's fortunes that eventually led to the dismissal of Steve Bruce.
The Black Cats have only claimed one derby win on home soil in the last 22 years, a record that is the source of considerable pain and embarrassment to the club's support.
As a result, the yearning for a home win is all-consuming, and Pardew is expecting a hostile welcome as his players attempt to record their fifth win on Wearside in the last eight attempts.
“I keep going back to when I went into that stadium last year and it was an intimidating place,” he said. “I'm sure St James' Park was just the same when they came to us. It makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and that's one of the greatest feelings in football.
“The atmosphere of a derby is different and you're never going to get away from that. The tackles are that much fiercer and everybody puts their head in where it hurts. There's always something happening and even a 0-0 can be a great game if it's a derby.”
It is more than 22 years since a game between Newcastle and Sunderland ended goalless, and if the visitors are to score tomorrow, the man the home fans fear most is not one of their opponents' front line strikers.
Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba are expected to lead the line tomorrow, just as they did at the start of March's 1-1 draw on Tyneside.
On that occasion, Ameobi came off the bench to grab an equaliser that extended his remarkable scoring record against Sunderland.
The striker, who was raised on Tyneside, has scored seven goals in 11 matches against the Black Cats, with only Jackie Milburn boasting a better scoring record in Tyne-Wear and Wear-Tyne encounters.
Ameobi tends to reserve his most effective performances for Sunderland, something Pardew admits will influence his thinking if things are tight in the second half of tomorrow's game.
“The decision on my three strikers is tough,” he said. “In the two years I've been here, Shola has proven that he is every bit as good as Papiss and Demba. Having said that though, Papiss had a great run last year and Demba is on a great run again this season. It's going to be a tough call.
“Shola has an incredible (derby) record and makes an impact whenever he's involved. He can do that coming off the bench, and I know if that's the decision I make, all Sunderland fans will be hoping they don't see him all afternoon.
“I've spoken to a couple of Sunderland fans this week, and they've both said, 'I hope he's not involved'. He does seem to have the Indian sign over Sunderland.”