Alan Pardew may have brought about a reversal in fortune at Newcastle United in terms of results, but there are still areas in need of improvement.
A 2-1 victory over previously unbeaten Chelsea on Saturday helped to highlight the positive strides being taken on Tyneside.
That success was soured slightly, though, by the late dismissal of Steven Taylor.
The Magpies looked to be in complete control as Papiss Cisse stepped off the bench to net a deadly double, but they were made to sweat in the final nine minutes.
Didier Drogba pulled a goal back for Chelsea shortly after Taylor had been given his marching orders and if there had been longer on the clock, the Blues would have been fancied to snatch a leveller.
Newcastle can therefore consider themselves a tad fortunate that they were not made to pay the price for another moment of ill discipline.
It has been a recurring theme for Pardew’s men over the last 12 months, with the red mist descending on too many occasions.
Competing at a Premier League level is hard enough with 11 men, yet alone 10.
Taylor’s red card at St James’ Park was Newcastle’s seventh of the calendar year – more than any other side.
The table below also shows how they top an unwanted chart regarding sending offs in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 campaigns.
|Total Red Card||Appearances|
Is this an issue which can be addressed or do red cards have to be accepted when giving your all in the heat of battle?
Were Pardew to ask his players to take their foot off the gas a little, would that have an adverse effect on results?
The Magpies are not renowned for being a dirty or malicious side, but perhaps they need to work on keeping their cool in those moments of adversity when the heat is on, tempers start to fray and the pressure rises.
They cannot afford to shoot themselves in the foot, with there a collective responsibility among all of those thrown into top-flight battle to ensure that they give each other, their manager and a loyal fan base the best possible chance to toast success at the final whistle.