Swansea City (h) Premier League
Half time: Newcastle 0 Swansea 0
Alan Pardew commented:
"Had we scored in the first half, it would've been a very difficult game. I think Brendan (Rodgers) will be pleased to get a draw here.
"I really canít complain too much about my side. We stopped them playing which was the aim and put them under pressure and forced errors. The first half was our better half for sure, we got in behind and we created chances and put balls in the box but they havenít keep seven clean sheets for nothing.
"Thereís a good spirit in the Swansea team. Although they didnít keep possession as they would have liked today, they defended very well and the goalie looked strong. Everything we tried to do today they seemed to have an answer. Having said that a little break here and there we may have got the goal and I think we would have won this game and got Swansea to come out a little bit.
"Overall Iím actually not that disappointed, I thought we played well today. I thought Santon did well at left-back, I thought he linked well with Jonas - that looks good with no Ryan today.
"I thought Cheick being back in the side was a massive boost plus Coloccini and we looked more like ourselves today. We certainly looked a strong team - and don't forget they're a mid-table team and we've absolutely bossed them without getting a result.
"I donít need to lift them, I really donít. I think as professionals you know if you played well and if you havenít. They played well today in my opinion and we looked a strong side and on another afternoon if one of those goals goes in in the first half, I could be sitting here telling a very different story. But at the same time you have to pay tribute to the opposition, they defended very well.
"I thought it was the chance for the Geordie folk to show their respect for Gary (Speed) and love for him and they did that and in a really magical way. It was hairs on the back of your neck stuff. Iím sure is family were very pleased about that.
ďItís frustrating in so much that
we played well. Swansea have eight clean sheets in the Premier League,
they drop deep and defend deep. But they didnít keep the ball as well as
they have been because we wouldnít let them.
"A couple of times I thought about Hatem, but I just felt they were so deep, with so many numbers back, that I did not think he would find any space, if I am honest. He looks for pockets, and there werenít any.
"Actually, I thought that maybe a
diagonal coming in that box with Shola climbing on the back of a centre-half
might just be enough. As he was he had half a chance at a set play, and
Sammy ended up winning a cross at the far post. That was really the only
time we had the space to get a goal.
ďAnd it was almost a perfect away performance. We restricted them and then could have nicked something. We kept the clean sheet and then got into the game, got into some good areas and nearly got a goal that we would have deserved after we picked the rhythm of the game up.
ďWe didnít get the win but if you canít do that, you make sure you donít lose and we did that.
"You know when you go away from home youíre going to have spells when you are under pressure. They had two big men up front in Ba and Best and we knew we were going to have to defend.
ďBut we coped, we stopped the crosses and tactically we were better in the second-half. Our positioning wasnít as good as it can be in the first-half and we got a bit too excited on the ball but we showed great resilience and concentration after the break. It is a terrific point for us.Ē
Despite looking more like our old selves on paper and finishing with eleven players for the first time in four games, our winless run was stretched to five games on Saturday, as Swansea City held out for their fifth goalless draw of the season.
Although the home side dominated proceedings, that crucial strike to break the deadlock stubbornly refused to come. Demba Ba came closest with some more rubber-limbed efforts reminiscent of Asprilla, and both he and Fabricio Coloccini struck the Leazes End goal frame in the first half.
United managed seventeen attempts on the City goal, compared to just three off-target efforts from the visitors but Swans' Dutch 'keeper Michel Vorm was on fine form and his defence - including former toon transfer target Neil Taylor - stayed solid, disciplined and compact.
On an afternoon when tributes to the late Gary Speed postponed from the Chelsea game were paid by a near full house, United were boosted by the return of Coloccini, Cheick Tiote and Leon Best to the starting lineup. Injury saw Ryan Taylor lose his ever-present tag as Davide Santon continued at left back while James Perch looked rather more comfortable this week partnered by Colo in central defence as Danny Simpson reverted to right back.
But having failed to find the net in a very one-sided first 45 minutes, which also saw Jonas Gutierrez shave the post with a powerful drive, United needed an early goal after the break to settle the nerves. It almost came when Ba volleyed Simpson's cross just wide and he appealed in vain for a push as he struck his effort. But having weathered an hour's battering, the visitors sensed they could sneak a winner and they came close when Scott Sinclair shot narrowly wide.
Nursing an injured shoulder, Leon Best made way for Shola Ameobi who promptly opened up the Swans defence and tested Vorm. Haris Vuckic and Sammy Ameobi meanwhile replaced cramp victim Tiote and Obertan - the latter of whom contributed little more than his SJP predecessor in the City side - Wayne Routledge.
Hatem Ben Arfa had looked set to come on before Tiote went down suffering from cramp towards the North West corner of the ground and enthusiastic though Vuckic was, Ben Arfa seemed a more obvious supplier of that longed for moment of inspiration to outwit stubborn opposition.
Four minutes of added time came and went before referee Lee Mason blew for full-time Mason had earlier infuriated Pardew for cautioning Yohan Cabaye - the Frenchman's fifth yellow card of the season earning him a one game ban - and Cabaye himself was shepherded down the tunnel after engaging both the officials and Swansea bench in conversation.
A point was still enough to take us back above
Liverpool into sixth, but a Craig Bellamy inspired victory for the Reds at
Villa on Sunday returned us to seventh. Ten goals scored in our eight home
games to date though tells a story, the same time frame bringing 19 last season
and 13 in the relegation campaign. We did have chances today and their 'keeper
kept a few out, but our attempts at building to a crescendo of attacking lacked
the intensity Manchester United summoned up against us - when we somehow held
out and one report commented on the "forcefield" round Krul's goal.