TYNESIDE’S new hero Moussa Sissoko has warned Premier League clubs they will be facing a very different Newcastle United in the second half of the season.
Sissoko’s fantastic brace sealed a second win in successive games to put daylight between the rejuvenated Magpies and the Premier League drop zone, as well as paving the way for what Alan Pardew called the “most memorable moment of the season”.
It was in no small amount down to United’s new arrival, who was hailed by a delighted Pardew as a “giant” and a “force of football” after the last-minute goal which beat Chelsea.
Sissoko’s performance summed up the vast difference in Newcastle on Saturday from the anaemic displays that have typified the campaign so far. And his message to the rest of the top flight is that they should re-evaluate United, who are desperate to replicate the fine Spring form of last year and finish the season “on a high”.
“When I signed I knew full well the position Newcastle were in but I didn’t have any fears,” he said.
“The first half of the season Newcastle had a lot of injury problems and they couldn’t perhaps put out the full team they wanted to.
“In the second half of the season it’s going to be very different with the new signings bringing a boost to the team. I’m very happy to be here. We’re going to play to our strengths, do as well as we can and finish the season as high as we possibly can.”
Sissoko led the manic celebrations after his injury-time goal and dedicated his goal to the St James’ Park faithful, who reacted to the win with ecstatic scenes.
Interestingly, there was also a marked return to the tenacity and team spirit that typified their performances last season.
That determination has been eroded in difficult times this year but the way the team celebrated – by rushing to the bench and involving everyone – seemed to suggest that the players are once again a team of brothers. There is no doubt that Sissoko has felt welcomed by his team-mates and Pardew (pictured right), and said that he wanted to thank them after his winner.
“I simply wanted to celebrate this goal with my team-mates,” he said.
“Ever since I’ve arrived they’ve been absolutely fantastic with me. They’ve helped me, supported me, encourage med and I just wanted to go out and thank them.
“I can only thank the manager, too, for saying those nice words about me. Since I arrived here he’s always told me what he expects of me.
“He’s told me he’s seen a lot of me previously in France. He said he knew I’d succeed if I continue playing like that.
“I told him I’ll do my best in each and every match so I don’t let him down and he just basically congratulated me.
“He told me to continue playing like this and I’ll be a fantastic success in the Premier League. I thanked him.”
United supporters serenaded him with an anthem of his own and Sissoko admitted that the support had blown him away. “The public supported me 100% all the way through; each match I play in I try to give 100%. I’m absolutely delighted with the support. I work hard,” he said.
Cheick Tioté will be available for United’s trip to Tottenham on Saturday after the Ivory Coast crashed out of the African Nations Cup yesterday.
The Magpies midfielder scored his first international goal, equalising for the tournament favourites after Emmanuel Emenike opened the scoring, but Sunday Mba’s deflected winner took Nigeria through.