Stoke City (h) Premier League
14 mins Hatem
Ben Arfa unlocked the Stoke defence with a mazy run and cross from the left
flank that picked out Cisse. And when the number nine's header hit the bar, Yohan
Cabaye was on hand to nod in the rebound from close range in front of a
jubilant Leazes End. 1-0
Alan Pardew commented:
"But of course, we haven't lost sight of what the city hasn't lost sight of. You can feel it in the crowd, you can feel it in the city, that there's a chance for us to do something really special, and we will go to Wigan and try to achieve that.
"We have got momentum and it's a dangerous tool to have in your locker. We are playing with confidence, we have got ourselves in a fantastic position - perhaps even better than we thought we might be in - and the confidence was there for everyone to see on the pitch today.
"Everybody is contributing. This isn't about one player or one person, it's a combination of a lot of things that have gone on at this football club from Mike Ashley down, and everybody deserves the credit they are getting.
"They were two great goals (by Yohan Cabaye), but perhaps the pass (for Cisse's goal) was better than the goals. I was on the sideline and I didn't even see that run, and he was having to manoeuvre the ball with players left, right and centre of him.
"To find that pass was exquisite - it was still a great finish, by the way - but that will go down as one of the best passes I have seen at this stadium.
"Mike's (Ashley) put something like £273m into the club and he's not taken anything back. Since I've been here I have not really shouted his corner. Politically for me it's a minefield.
"I want to keep the fans in a good place but I would say to them, before they get emotional about it, that Mike has invested something like 25 per cent of his personal wealth in this football club. Ask me for 25 per cent of my money and you've got no chance. I don't care how good your idea is.
"I have never enjoyed myself more as a football manager as I do now. Being a manager is a tough business and Iíve had a year which hasnít been tough, instead itís been really enjoyable.
ďThat is thanks to my staff and the players who have been brilliant. I am not going to say who I think is our player of the year - that would be ridiculous - but we have got four or five candidates and you could put a cigarette paper between them. Thatís how good we have been.
ďSomeone said to me recently that, one to
11, I must be delighted. I told them I was delighted with one to 22. I really
am. Guys like James Perch, Mike Williamson and Steven Taylor, before he got
injured, have been great.
"I was at the Chelsea-Barcelona game and, of course, that makes you want to be involved in those games. All coaches want to be at the top level such as the Champions League which is the greatest level outside of the World Cup, I would suggest.
"If we were fortunate enough to get into the Champions League then the money will take care of itself. It really will. It wonít take a lot of time to find the players who can go in at that level with the extra finance that will be available.
"I could go and get two extra players and they would be lined up anyway. So we are all set. Fourth place is do-able. I do, however, still think itís a long shot for us.
"We have got a difficult run-in, although that might be a good thing; it could focus the mind. Sometimes when you get one of those games, and Tottenham and Arsenal have them, when on paper you are expecting to win because they are against relegation-threatened sides, they can be the hardest ones to wins.
"So Iím looking at this with a clear mind and with clarity. We have a chance. To be in this situation with four games to go is fantastic and the players should feel immense pride.
"But I will tell you, the one thing that is important is momentum and weíve got that. We have confidence, so teams are going to play very well to beat us, regardless of who they are.Ē
ďI am not picking on Jon. He has been fantastic for us. He is a great lad and he kept going and kept going but he had three chances by himself, never mind the rest of the team.
ďWe are getting a little bit greedy, we have been in the Premier League for four years now and we are nice and comfortable with six or seven goals to go. We have been to three FA Cup quarter-finals and a quarter-final of the League Cup, we have been to a semi-final of the FA Cup, a final of the FA Cup and the last 32 of the Europe. It has not been a bad four years. We mustnít get greedy.
"Newcastle have got lots of momentum - they have got goals in them. They can be very confident and assured for the last few games because I think they will score goals. I looked at the team sheet and I didnít think Newcastleís squad looked that small. Whatever you do donít dismiss Europe. Hopefully theyíll get into Europe and theyíll enjoy it, Iím sure.
"If they get into the Champions League then itís a fantastic achievement for them and I really mean that and if they donít and itís the Europa League, theyíll enjoy that as well.
"Itís a fantastic tournament. If you do it right you can be successful. We got to the last 32 and we loved it. We really enjoyed it.
"The team that knocked us out (Valencia)
are now in the semi-finals. Itís a great, great tournament I think and you
know for clubs like Newcastle, Europe at St James Park Ė Iím not using the
other name Ė it would be absolutely fantastic.Ē
Just as bad days trigger recollections of
previous onfield misadventures, then so do memorable matches conjure up
memories of happy times. Although this victory made it six games unbeaten,
today was the day when we genuinely strutted for the first time in that run
and oozed class right across the park - those who dusted off the
'Entertainers' tag afterwards were on the button.
3-0 it stayed though, with scorers Cabaye and Cisse were substituted to standing ovations, job done (the former had signalled to the bench just before scoring his second that he had a problem with his foot. It didn't affect his shooting....)
Substitute James Perch then added to his
growing reputation, blocking a goalbound Crouch effort with his first touch.
Shola Ameobi made a nuisance of himself up front as the frustrated visitors
threatened less and less.