Newcastle legend Alan Shearer has slammed defender Ciaran Clark for his actions in the 1-1 draw with Norwich at St James’ Park.
The Ireland international lined up alongside Fabian Schar at centre-back in the absence of skipper Jamaal Lascelles. But he lasted just nine minutes thanks to a moment of ‘madness’, according to Shearer.
Clark attempted to clear the ball but saw it hit the midriff of Norwich striker Teemu Pukki. That allowed the goalscorer to race past his opponent and towards Martin Dubravka in net. Clark decided to pull Pukki down outside the box, while acting as the last man. That forced referee Andy Madley to show the red card.
While appearing on Amazon Prime, Shearer was asked about the 32-year-old’s decision. He said: “He could have cost them big time tonight. Just when you’re wanting a cool, calm performance, he makes an error which okay, you can sort of accept, but then to do what he did and drag him down was madness.
“I don’t know what he’s thinking. Just let him go through, try and let the goalkeeper do his job. The goalkeeper saved a one-on-one in the second half, so he might have saved that.
“If you go one nil down then at least you’ve still got the 11 vs 11, you’ve got the chance to get back into the game. But I just thought it was a crazy, stupid decision from Clark.”
Fellow pundit Les Ferdinand added: “Panic, that’s what it is. He’s made a mistake and he’s tried to correct it by doing something silly and pulling the defender down.
“I think when you are where are you in the table, you do things like that and it’s emphasised even more because Newcastle needed 11 players on the pitch to win today.”
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Howe praises rest of Newcastle defence
During a post-match interview with Amazon Prime, Howe said: “We had a mountain to climb so early in the game. We started brightly 11 v 11. The sending-off has a huge bearing on the match.
“Full credit to the players for how they responded. There were some great individual performances. I’m so disappointed for everyone connected with the club we couldn’t get over the line.”
Newcastle have been criticised for their defensive frailty in recent weeks. Indeed, they have conceded more goals than any other team up to this point, with 30.
But when asked about the most impressive factor in the home draw, Howe said: “[Our] defensive resilience. 11 v 10 for 80 minutes. We defended really well. Norwich made it difficult for us but our midfield coped.
“If we deliver the mentality we showed with 10 men v 11 on a regular basis, we’ll win games. No doubt about that.”