English Premiership

Pardew challenges Obertan

2014-10-19 11:45
Newcastle United (AFP)

Newcastle - Gabriel Obertan has been challenged to finally fulfil his potential by Newcastle manager Alan Pardew.

WRAP: English Premiership

The French midfielder's first goal for almost two years helped Pardew celebrate his 700th game in management with a narrow 1-0 victory at home to Leicester City.

A first Premier League win of the season lifted some of the pressure on the under-fire St James' Park chief, whose third-bottom side moved to within a point of safety.

Recently recalled Obertan repaid Pardew's faith, marking back-to-back starts for the first time since January 2013 with only his third goal since a transfer from Manchester United in 2011.

The inconsistent 25-year-old has struggled for fitness and form with north-east side Newcastle.

But after his second-half goal settled a contest delayed by an hour for wind damage repairs to the newly-installed giant LED screen at Newcastle's Tyneside home, Pardew insisted it was now time for Obertan to finally show his worth.

Victory helped Newcastle avoid their worst start to a Premier League season and earned a congratulatory post-match dressing room visit from the club's billionaire owner, Mike Ashley.

"Gabriel's a player where the environment needs to be centred on him," said a relieved Pardew.

"He has a lot of experience, but he's still only young and people often forget that. He needs to deliver now so I'm delighted for him to get the winning goal.

"He's been terrific for us in the last couple of games and I had a feeling he could come and be a great player. He still has a lot to offer."

Pardew famously lost patience with Hatem Ben Arfa, sending the former Marseille midfielder out loan to Hull earlier this season.

- Unforgettable Obertan -

But the 53-year-old has been rewarded for handing a second chance to another Frenchman in Obertan.

Pardew added: "He's had a lot of niggly injuries that have stalled his momentum. When we finished fifth a couple of seasons ago, he played a big part in that and I've never forgotten that."

Victory was only Newcastle's second in 16 games, their fifth in the league this calendar year as Pardew attempts to turn things round to prolong his near four-year reign.

"We're playing under huge pressure as a team, you can't get away from it in this city, and we really can self-harm sometimes with the pressure we put ourselves," Pardew said.

"When you've been a manager as long as I have and experienced a team that's not functioning, then you have to work doubly hard to protect yourself from the criticism that comes with it.

"This is hopefully the start of things now. The most important thing is that we move on from this and beat some top teams. This win instils some confidence in us."

Pardew paid tribute to his opposite number Nigel Pearson for refusing to use the big screen delay as an excuse for the Foxes defeat.

Pearson, who has in the past been caretaker manager at St James' Park, said: "It's disappointing to come away with nothing.

"We contained Newcastle relatively well and looked dangerous going forward but weren't quite able to find the rhythm in previous games.

"I don't think the delay had any effect on us. Both sets of players seemed very relaxed about it.

"There's a tendency to put added weight on circumstances like that but once we knew the timescale we were working to it was fine, it was only another hour. Both sets of players and officials dealt with the situation well. There was no friction at all."


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