ALAN Pardew has waded into the Premier League diving controversy by accusing Reading striker Pavel Pogrebnyak of being one of the worst in the country for “falling over” and “buying free-kicks”.
In a well-timed blast aimed at bringing attention to the Russian’s antics, Pardew has warned his team that relegation rivals Reading will come to Tyneside prepared to do anything it takes to get a positive result.
That includes telling his team to wise up to Pogrebnyak, who he feels should be regarded as one of the top flight’s “worst” for diving.
Once again this season the subject of simulation has been a hot topic.
And Luis Suarez’s admission in the South American media that he dived to gain an advantage against Stoke has brought it to the top of the agenda.
Pardew outlined his own concerns ahead of the visit of Reading, who could deepen the gloom of Newcastle’s crisis-torn season if they inflict a sixth home defeat on the Magpies this term.
“When we come to Reading, this is a battling side we're playing,” Pardew said..
“They're great at set plays – the striker Pogrebnyak he falls over. He's one of the worst players I've seen for falling over and buying free-kicks so we have got to be clever. We need to make sure we put up with that, defend set-plays and win the game.”
A defiant Pardew spent most of his pre-match address dealing with the fall-out of the Loic Remy saga – as well as offering assurances that Fabricio Coloccini’s mind would be focused on the issue at hand.
When it came to the crucial matter of securing three points against Reading, however, he was much more bullish. He is more “confident” about beating Reading than he has been about many of United’s fixtures this season.
The reason for his optimism is centred around the return of key players, with Yohan Cabaye and Steven Taylor included in the squad to face Brian McDermott’s Royals.
That increases Pardew’s options and gives him something to work with on the bench in case things aren’t going his way. He explained: “The challenge for us is to make sure our game plan is correct, that we have a plan B and in a lot of games I’ve not had a plan B because the bench has not been strong enough.
“This week I have a plan B because my bench is strong enough. Shola comes back in to the squad and the bench is stronger. There are more tools for a manager to win a game in the Premier League.
“I am feeling a lot more confident about this game than I have about a lot of games. That is a dangerous thing to say against someone like Reading, who are a great side with a great manager who I love to bits.
“They will come and be as honest as their manager. We will be patient. They are playing a very diligent game at the minute and they will make it very difficult for us and look to hit us on the break, i don’t think there's any doubt about that.”
Although fans have stayed loyal and defiant through the twists and turns of a grim campaign, their frustration is beginning to mount. Pardew says he sympathises.
“It’s almost like weekly there’s bad news,” he admitted. “I’d like to sit here today and say we’ve got new two new signings and we’ve got a real buzz around the training ground. That’s not the case. We’ve got a situation where our senior players are digging in.
“We’ve got a very important game to win and hopefully then we can secure one or two players to come in. Then things will look a whole lot rosier.
“But I think the frustration our fans have is the same that I have as the manager and also the players, who want to see us move forward.”
Meanwhile, West Ham United are thought to have outbid Newcastle for Nancy left-back Massadio Haidara. The Magpies offered £2.5m this week, but the Hammers are believed to have offered £3m. AC Milan and Roma are also interested.