CHEICK TIOTE has made a conscious decision to curb his aggressive style because he is fed up missing games through suspension, writes Neil Cameron.
A yellow card today for the Newcastle United midfielder, against Manchester City at St James’ Park, would mean him sitting out more matches because it would take him through the disciplinary threshold.
So he is determined not to risk another needless booking.
Tiote’s competitive streak is as keen as ever, but the Ivory Coast star insisted he has learned what has been a harsh lesson.
He said: “We have so many important games coming up, which means I have to be a lot more careful.
“I have to play with more control. I try and play the same every week, but sometimes when I am ready to go for the ball I have to be certain because if I am not 100% I will be booked.
“It was different when I was in Holland – there is nowhere near as much physical contact. I prefer it in the Premier League.
“For me it’s the best because it’s more aggressive.”
Tiote revealed manager Alan Pardew felt the need to advise him to pull out of any tackle he was unsure about winning.
The final straw for Newcastle’s boss seems to have been the derby-day red card which left his side playing against Sunderland for an hour with ten men.
Tiote added: “The manager has told me that if I am not 100% I’ve not to tackle. He’s told me we have to try and keep all our players on the pitch. We need 11 against 11 if we are going to win.
“If we play with 10, we won’t win. It’s definitely easier for me to be booked because the referees know now what my style is like.
“They know I play hard so they watch me more than most. For me, that makes it difficult.”
Pardew believes a victory today against the Premier League champions would revitalise a season which in recent weeks has hit more than a few bumps in the road.