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Pardew: Watching Coloccini reminded me of Moore
ALAN Pardew has likened Newcastle captain Fabricio Coloccini to World Cup winner Bobby Moore, and claimed his side would not have conceded a late equaliser to Sunderland had the Argentinian centre-half remained on the field.
Coloccini produced a magnificent defensive display as ten-man Newcastle claimed a 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light yesterday afternoon.
Despite having to play with ten men for more than an hour following the dismissal of Cheik Tiote, Yohan Cabaye's early strike looked like securing the Magpies a famous success before Demba Ba deflected John O'Shea's 85th-minute header into his own net.
Coloccini was sitting in the dug out when O'Shea stole ahead of Mike Williamson to meet Seb Larsson's free-kick, having suffered a bout of cramp as he returned from a six-week absence because of a hamstring injury.
The skipper had won a succession of vital headers and tackles during his 79 minutes on the field, leading Pardew to draw comparisons with arguably the greatest English defender of all time.
“If you're looking for an example of a centre-half having to head it and kick it, cover people and get in the right position, but then still have the calmness to play, that was it,” said the Newcastle boss.
“What a performance, it was one of the best he's done for me, for sure. I come from a famous football club in West Ham and that was like watching Bobby Moore, it was terrific.
“Maybe if he had stayed on we would have seen it out because I thought he was absolutely phenomenal.”
Ba's own goal prevented Newcastle staging a repeat of last August's 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light, and means the Magpies remain in the bottom half of the table.
However, the visitors could take a large amount of pride from their performance as they successfully contained Sunderland for large periods despite only having ten men on the field.
Last year's derby victory on Wearside was the catalyst for an 11-game unbeaten run that was a major factor in the Magpies' fifth-placed finish.
Yesterday's draw was not quite as momentous, but with three of Newcastle's next four league games seeing them play at home to West Brom, West Ham and Swansea, Pardew is hoping it has a similarly uplifting effect.
“It would have been one of the greatest victories ever if we had been able to hold on,” he said. “Sixty minutes is a long time to play with just ten men, and towards the end of the game, we just began to tire.
“But the whole day was great for us. It was a truly unbelievable effort and I'm so proud of the players. I'm disappointed we haven't taken all three points, and when you play with ten men for 60 minutes, that's saying something.
“I can't take any negatives from the game at all. All I'm taking is positives. We spoke in the dressing room afterwards about really kicking on now. We've had excuses, even though we haven't really used them. We've had injuries and suspensions, but we had our full complement today and it showed. Now we have Bruges (in the Europa League on Thursday) and West Brom, and we have to win those games.”
The build-up to yesterday's game was dominated by Steven Taylor's assertion that no Sunderland player is capable of earning a place in the Newcastle side.
Taylor's omission from the starting line-up was a result of his failure to completely recover from a calf problem, but Pardew has warned the centre-half that he is not an automatic choice ahead of Mike Williamson.
“I don't know why people think Steven Taylor is an automatic pick for this team,” he said. “Willo (Williamson) has been absolutely brilliant for us, as he was again today. Some of his clearances were of the highest order. It's a squad game and Steven has to earn his right to play in this team. At the moment, Willo is the centre-half.”
Pardew started with Shola Ameobi ahead of Papiss Cisse, but was forced to sacrifice the striker, who boasts a superb scoring record against Sunderland, after Tiote was sent off.
“I apologised to him because he was terrific,” he said. “He loves this fixture and there are certain games where Shola is definitely at the top of my thinking, and he was for today. He was my first pick. Having to drag him off to make sure we had a sound unit to defend was harsh on him.”