Tottenham Hotspur 1 Newcastle United 2
Alan Pardew admitted the Newcastle United dressing room was no place for faint hearts at half-time after his side had been outplayed for 45 minutes and apparently destined to slump to yet another defeat that would have thrown the focus firmly back on the manager’s future.
Whatever was said — and Pardew revealed he was forced to remind his players of the stature of the club they were representing — had the desired effect and within six seconds of the restart, Sammy Ameobi, introduced as one of two substitutes at half-time, had equalised and the balance of the game had titled in Newcastle’s favour.
Twelve minutes later Ayoze Perez marked his first Premier League start with a goal and Emmanuel Adebayor’s 18th minute opening goal had been reduced to a footnote.
Instead of dwelling on his position, Pardew was able to reflect on a first away win since March and savour the experience of back to back victories for the first time in eight months.
“There were a few strong words,” said Pardew, whose side moved out of the bottom three. “It’s not nice as a manager to go in and bark out orders but sometimes it’s necessary just to shake people up because we needed shaking up.
“We needed to offer a threat. We’re Newcastle United. We’re not a small club. We’re a big club and we were playing like a small club. We were giving too much possession to Tottenham, too much space. We never made a challenge. And we were fortunate to come in a 1-0.
“So I reminded them about the fundamentals of a Premier League game and we come out with a much stronger attitude.”
The attitude was certainly transformed and where before the break Newcastle had been forced onto the backfoot against a Tottenham side boosted by the 5-1 Europa League victory over Asteras Tripolis, they now met them on equal terms.
And alarmingly for Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs appeared unable to respond.
It had all been going so well for Pochettino’s side.
Comfortable in possession, they went ahead when Adebayor rose unchallenged to head home from Ryan Mason’s cross.
But they paid the price for failing to translate their dominance into goals and after Jack Colback had picked out Ameobi’s forward run direct from the kick-off at the start of the second period, things began to unravel.
Perez, drafted in at the last minute after Papiss Cisse was forced to withdraw with a knee problem matched Adebayor’s effort, heading home in the 57th minute and it was hard to deny that Newcastle’s spirited response meant they were worthy winners.
A third home league defeat of the season confirmed that the anticipated, Pochettino-inspired transformation at White Hart Lane has not yet gathered legs. Instead, the club find themselves in 11th place with 11 points, seven places and eight points worse off than they were after nine games last season.
Pochettino was in no doubt where his team’s problems lie and delivered a withering assessment of the mentality of his players.
“The goal was a shock. It was a shock because after that it all changed,” said the Tottenham manager. “Seven or six seconds before, all was happiness and there was good energy in the stadium. Our supporters were happy and believed that we would get a good result. But in this moment, I think it was difficult to manage in our head. Our heads had gone and we started to take rash decisions on the pitch.
“It was difficult because 12 or 14 minutes later, we conceded again another goal. At 2-1, it was difficult. It’s hard to explain why.
“I think there was a lack of concentration from us. We need to work hard on our mentality because it is not tactical, physical — it is concentration and mentality and this is our challenge to improve.”
TOTTENHAM (4-2-3-1): Lloris 6; Dier 5, Kaboul 6, Vertonghen 6, Rose 7; Capoue 6 (Kane 66,6), Mason 8; Lamela 5 (Lennon 77, 6), Eriksen 7, Chadli 6; Adebayor 7 (Soldado 83, 6).
NEWCASTLE (4-2-3-1): Krul 7; Janmaat 7, S Taylor 7, Coloccini 7, Dummett 6; Anita 4 (Cabella 46,7), Colback 7; Obertan 4 (Ameobi 46 7), Sissoko 9, Gouffran 6; Perez 8 (Haidara 83,6).
Referee: Anthony Taylor.
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