While the rest of us stuffed ourselves with turkey and trimmings, life went on as normal at Newcastle United. Neil Cameron reports.
NEWCASTLE United’s players spent Christmas morning at the club’s training ground even before they had a chance to find out what Santa had left them under the tree.
Were it any other fixture they had to face other than Manchester United away, boss Alan Pardew maybe would have given his charges the day off.
Had they been sitting in the top half of the Premier League, then, even with a Boxing Day trip to Old Trafford on the cards, the Newcastle manager may have felt more generous in spirit.
However, it has been a hard four months and this is as difficult a game as any team will encounter in the Premier League.
So work came before presents.
It’s fair to guess that when they were kids, the current Newcastle senior players would have been up and about early on Christmas morning to put on their new football strips and go outside for a kickabout with their new ball.
Now they get to do it for real.
Pardew, speaking at his pre-match press conference on Christmas Eve, said: “We will train on Christmas Day. You need to get up early to beat Manchester United.
“I will then send the players home to see their families and then we will fly to Manchester. It’s a busy Christmas for everyone at the club.
“I don’t like to look backwards this season because we have had problems, and those problems have been the first-team getting results. So we are very much focused on the games ahead.
“Players can handle wins and losses equally. We handled winning well last season when we showed good motivation, but we have not coped with defeat as well as I would have liked.
“We do have a lot of young players and we’ve lost momentum, which is key in the Premier League. However, we have picked up over the last three or four games.
“It’s important we carry that through the next few games and we can pull off some good results.”
Newcastle are 14th after the 1-0 win over QPR, which Pardew admitted could be a pivotal result of this season.