Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

THEIR Post-Match Calm Belied [...]; They Were All Smiles about It Afterwards but, as Mark Smith Reports, the Derby-Day Battle between Alan Pardew and Martin O'Neill Was Every Bit as Feisty as the On-Field Action

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

THEIR Post-Match Calm Belied [...]; They Were All Smiles about It Afterwards but, as Mark Smith Reports, the Derby-Day Battle between Alan Pardew and Martin O'Neill Was Every Bit as Feisty as the On-Field Action

Article excerpt

THEIR post-match calm belied an afternoon of friction and passion in equal measure, as pans boiled over in the North East kitchen.

In the black corner, Alan Pardew, the suited-and-booted steward of the good ship Newcastle. In the red corner, Martin O'Neill, the bouncy Ulsterman, king of the one-liners. Taking charge of this contest, your fourth official, Lee - let's get ready to rumble - Mason.

Not quite, but not a million miles away. In parliament the two main parties are kept two sword-lengths apart for their own safety, a relic of bygone days aimed at maintaining decorum in the chamber.

In football it is called the technical area, but the logic is similar.

Jousting, at least of the verbal variety, was still in full evidence at St James' Park as both managers toed the line. Pardew even crossed it on occasion - literally as well as figuratively - as he admitted afterwards.

A Tim Henman-esque fistpump greeted the award of his side's 81st-minute penalty, treading the extreme edges of his area and gesturing into the face of his opposite number.

O'Neill, unmoved, folded his arms and waited for the spot-kick to be saved, offering no hint of a "told you so" as Pardew fell to his haunches and clasped palms round the back of his head. Mason, clipboard and all, stood between the two, and his services were once more required when Shola Ameobi poked home the equaliser.

"You beauty" shouted Pardew, again in O'Neill's direction, and again with little in the way of retort. "I have been around a fair amount of time in this game," said the Sunderland boss afterwards to the throng of journalists, many of whom may have been secretly hoping for a fight but were disappointed not to find one. "I am sure I will get worse, and I have probably given out worse. Really, honestly, just leave it. No problem."

Expanding his theme to the wider occasion, he added: "This derby was everything that people had told me about. Hostility is something I am kind of used to, even from my own fans, but it had fervour and everything.

"In a perverse kind of way I was just enjoying it - but it would have to be a really perverse way!" Belying his caricature of the feisty Celt, yesterday's skirmish saw the Black Cat by far the calmer of the two bosses. Even when Nicklas Bendtner struck home his penalty he merely walked to his seat, picked up his drink and gulped down a swig.

Pardew, notebook and pen in right hand, bore no hint of a protest at Mike Williamson's tug, although the same could not be said as the tackles flew in.

Mason, performing the most thankless role in football, took the brunt as the fourth official, and he had it in stereo as John Carver backed up his gaffer in equal measure. It may have seemed, to amateur lip-readers at least, an unusual place to order four coffees, but O'Neill was in no mood to rise to the bait. …

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