ALAN Pardew said he started with a blank piece of paper this week – after seeing his Newcastle United side torn to shreds.
Pardew’s beleaguered side take on Manchester United at St James’s Park tomorrow.
Newcastle, battered on the south coast by Southampton last weekend, memorably beat David Moyes’s side 1-0 at Old Trafford in December.
That afternoon the visiting fans stayed behind long after the final whistle to sing the name of midfielder Yohan Cabaye, who scored the only goal of the game.
Newcastle’s long-suffering supporters, however, were in less charitable mood at the St Mary’s Stadium, where the club’s players were booed off the field.
Manager Pardew won’t just be without Cabaye, sold in January, for the return fixture.
Loic Remy, Moussa Sissoko, Tim Krul and Mathieu Debuchy are all sidelined through injury.
And Pardew – whose tactics have again come under close scrutiny – has had to devise a very different gameplan against a backlash on Tyneside to the abject performance on the south coast.
“We have nothing to fall back on from Southampton – there’s nothing I can take from that game that we can hang our hat on,” Pardew said.
“We’ve had a clean piece of paper this week. It’s back to structure and stability of the team.
“We want to win the game – that’s what we hope to do – and have our desire levels right through the roof.”
Reflecting on the meeting between the two sides at Old Trafford, Pardew added: “There are five players who put that performance in who aren’t going to feature this week.
“Therefore the gameplan can’t be the same. We aren’t going to be able to control the ball like we did that game.
“We need to have a different game plan to beat Man United at home.”
The “desire” of the players on the pitch can compensate for the quality of the absentees, according to Pardew, whose side are ninth in the Premier League.
“I’m trying give ourselves a chance to win the game - we’ve got to keep ourselves in the game,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure when we get to 65 or 70 minutes, that we’ve got players who can come on and affect the game.
“That was a massive problem at Southampton. We weren’t in the game from beginning to end, and the goals that arrived in the second half could have easily come in the first half.
“What I can gain from that is that we owe our fans. What we can determine is how strong our desire is to win the game. That needs to show on the pitch.”
The sale of Cabaye and the absence of Remy has left Newcastle with what Pardew has described as a “functional” team. And goals – or lack of them – is Pardew’s biggest headache.
“We are grinding towards the end and unfortunately,” said Pardew, whose side have scored just one goal in the nine league games Remy has missed this season.
“That’s not what we want. We want to be a lot more easy on the eye, and lot more fluent in what we are doing than we are.
“But we have become a very functional team now, and that’s what has really got to get us through until such time as Loic is back and Mathieu is back and Tim is back.”