MAPOU Yanga-Mbiwa has recharged his batteries – and is ready to power through to the end of the season.
That’s the verdict of manager Alan Pardew, who labelled the defender’s performance in the club’s 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion at the weekend as “outstanding”.
Yanga-Mbiwa, still adjusting to the demands of English football, had struggled against Sunderland’s Danny Graham six days earlier.
Pardew felt fatigue was a factor in his below-par performance in the Tyne-Wear derby, which Newcastle lost 3-0.
And the 23-year-old, signed from Montpellier in January, recovered well at The Hawthorns, where relegation-threatened United claimed what could prove an important point ahead of Saturday’s home game against Liverpool.
“It was a difficult pitch, and I thought Mapou was absolutely outstanding,” Pardew told SportMail.
“He had a couple of misplaced passes. I thought one of them was definitely the pitch. He was probably the outstanding player.
“(Against Sunderland), he was absolutely tired.
“The difference between (Yohan) Cabaye and Mapou between Sunday and (West Brom) was a million miles.
“They looked different players – that’s what energy levels can do for you.”
Yanga-Mbiwa and Steven Taylor, his defensive partner, won’t face Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, who was yesterday charged with violent conduct by the Football Association after biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.
A regulatory commission will meet tomorrow to decide the length of ban Suarez must serve.
And the absence of Suarez – who scored a well-taken equaliser for Liverpool in the 1-1 draw between the two sides in November – will come as a relief for Pardew’s defence and goalkeeper Rob Elliot, who also won praise from Pardew after his performance at The Hawthorns.
Elliot will be in goal for the rest of the season with first-choice goalkeeper Tim Krul sidelined after dislocating his shoulder against Sunderland.
“Rob, apart from one tiny mistake, was solid and strong, and that bodes well for going forward to the next four games,” added Pardew.
Meanwhile, United are considering visiting Cape Town in pre-season, according to a South African website.
The club was set to take part in the annual Vodacom Challenge last year, but the tournament was cancelled at the 11th hour, leaving Newcastle to hurriedly rearrange their pre-season plans.
The United States appeared to be United’s preferred destination this summer. Managing director Derek Llambias talked of a possible return to North America last month, with the club having undertaken a three-game tour stateside in 2011.
However, kickoff.com claim that United in discussions over about playing in a triangular tournament also involving Everton and Ajax Cape Town in July.
It is unlikely any pre-season plans will be signed off while there is still uncertainty as to which division Newcastle will play in next season.
United are six points above the Premier League’s relegation zone with four games left to play, though third-from-bottom Wigan Athletic have a game in hand.