Eight special seconds and serenity amid the storm downs the Special One
All it took was eight special seconds. The corridors at White Hart Lane are not particularly long but such was the speed of this stirring fight-back. Alan Pardew and Mauricio Pochettino had barely emerged from the confines of the Lane when Sammy Ameobi struck, guiding a swerving volley beyond the bewildered Hugo Lloris. That was all it took, all it needed, the antidote to Newcastle United's woeful malaise. Eight seconds.
Perhaps Alan Pardew is due an apology, one of sincerity and contrition. It is little wonder Graeme Souness, one of Pardew's predecessors, condemned the volatility of St James' Park, claiming it was one game away from caving in with derision and contempt. It has always been a stadia of expectation unfulfilled, the stature and history of the club seizing its supporters with indomitable pride. And, as Pardew would attest, when that pride is threatened, even minimally, derision erupts.
Perhaps, for Pardew, the most vital aspect during a period of great adversity and incertitude was the unerring faith of his players. Skipper Fabricio Colocinni spoke defiantly of the group's unity and determination to appease the raucous Toon Army, the Argentinian's preach of solidarity echoed by Daryl Janmaat, Pardew's impressive summer Dutch acquisition. Defender Mike Williamson insisted the dressing room was 100% behind the embattled Pardew, his words soon duly vindicated.
But, perhaps, it is the patience and ration of Newcastle's unloved owner, Mike Ashley, which has best been vindicated and rewarded. Despite the placards, produced in their thousands, embossed with the demand ‘Sack Pardew’, despite the speculation of his dissatisfaction with Pardew, of the ‘one-game’ ultimatum, Ashley rode the storm, providing a shining example of the virtues of patience. The discontent of St James’ failed to distort his judgement, and now he can smile in glee and delight.
Shrewd summer expenditure
It was only a matter of time before Newcastle kicked on in the league, their squad blemished by substantial expenditure in the summer, expending a total of £37 million on reinforcements. Remy Cabella was acquired from Montpellier for £12 million, Emmanuel Riviere joined from Monaco for a fee of £6.3 million and Daryl Janmaat, having impressed at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, compensated for Mathieu Debuchy’s departure to Arsenal with a transfer from Feyenoord worth £5 million.
It was only a matter of time before Cabella asserted his magical genius, that which earned him a surprise call-up to the France World Cup squad, albeit as cover. It was only matter of time before Riviere asserted the potency which contemplated for Falcao's lengthy absence to injury at Monaco last season. It was only matter of time before Janmaat embarked on his buccaneering runs on the right channel, the runs which earned him the prestige of featuring at a World Cup with Louis van Gaal's Netherlands.
But it wouldn't take much. A mere eight seconds.
A memorable victory
This was tense but this was Newcastle at their best, displaying their defensive and attacking qualities, reaching nirvana as they breached Chelsea’s pursuit of the ‘Invincibles’ tag on Saturday. A mere six games ago, Pardew seemed on the brink. Newcastle, condemned to the foot of the table, were on a sharp descent, destined for ignominy and failure. Downing Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten Chelsea, who genuinely seemed perfection personified, with ten-men was a dream of incredible improbability.
Even when Steven Taylor departed for a daft second bookable offence, poleaxing Chelsea subsitute Andre Schurrle, Newcastle kept on grafting, appeasing the anxious Pardew on the touch-line. Mohamed Sissoko kept running, kept nullifying Chelsea pressure and sparking Newcastle counter-attacks. Jack Colback, a steal for a free transfer in the summer, did not stop orchestrating Toon attacks, slicing Chelsea open with passes of intricate incision.
Ayoze Perez, another testament to Newcastle’s scouting system, acquired from Tenerife in the summer for £1.6 million, never stopped fufilling his defensive duties, endearing himself to St James’ with his tireless tracking back. Then there was Papiss Cisse’s guille and potency, securing nirvana for Newcastle.
It was, though, eight special seconds and serenity amid the storm which downed Mourinho’s Chelsea.