SOUTHAMPTON and Alan Pardew have moved onto bigger and better things since their 2010 divorce but if both were hoping to show off how well they were doing with new partners, only the Saints managed it.
The separation was swift rather than messy, but even now Southampton could not bring themselves to acknowledge Pardew anywhere in the match programme, whereas he made a point of clapping all sides of the ground before kick-off.
While Newcastle United’s manager rarely wants for self-belief, the same cannot be said of his players right now. That was painfully obvious as their run of winless games was extended to six by a 2-0 defeat.
Newcastle are starting to feel sorry for themselves. In his pre-match Press conference Pardew (pictured right) cited 11 injured players but when his team lined up at St Mary’s on a horrible day of sweeping wintry showers, only two first-choice starters were unfit.
It is confidence more than players Newcastle lack, whereas Southampton have belatedly found theirs. So it was that the name echoing around the stadium for much of the match was that of their new beau, Nigel Adkins.
The “Pardew give us a wave” chants in added time were ironic and although he raised a cursory arm in response, he could not look his old flames in the eye. It took 35 minutes for Southampton to score, but it neatly encapsulated the growing problem Newcastle had been giving themselves by defending too high up the pitch. It came courtesy of a player Pardew tried to sign, and one he did.
Whereas Papiss Cissé was often isolated at one end, a pacey Southampton looked dangerous whenever they attacked the other.
The Magpies defenders were on the halfway line when Rickie Lambert released Jason Puncheon. With Tim Krul rushing out of his area to clear – not for the first time – summer Newcastle target Nathaniel Clyne tried his luck from distance.
Mike Williamson did well to head away, and was not to know it was missing the target. Newcastle’s inability to properly clear allowed the dangerous Gaston Ramirez to square for Adam Lallana to tap in.
Lallana was just one of those brought to the South Coast when Pardew managed what was then a League One club.
Shane Ferguson – ironically a left-back – soon switched sides with Jonás Gutiérrez so the latter could give Davide Santon more protection, but the horse had bolted and it did nothing to calm nerves in the last ten minutes of the half.