Mackay gunning for an old friend
Malky Mackay could have been in the Newcastle dug-out at Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday but will have no hesitation in piling the pressure on his mentor and friend Alan Pardew.
Cardiff boss Mackay was West Ham captain under Pardew during his playing career, and was approached by the Magpies boss with a view to becoming his assistant at St James' Park.
But the Scot chose to remain at Watford, and has since guided Cardiff to the Barclays Premier League for the first time.
Pardew will bring his side to south Wales under pressure after a woeful first-half performance in Monday's 3-2 defeat at Everton, but Mackay has nothing but praise for his former boss.
He said: "I could have been at Newcastle. We had that conversation concerning me going up there as his number two, but it didn't happen.
"I know Alan well, he is a good friend of mine and he has certainly been a mentor for me over the past few years in terms of conversations we have had.
"I also played for him, I was his captain at West Ham, and he is a good friend of mine and he has done a very good job at Newcastle. He was given a long-term contract and he has brought stability to that club to an extent.
"You look at the recruitment he has orchestrated there in his time and that stability is important in football, and that is what I am trying to do here in terms of staff and recruitment.
"The first half on Monday was probably not what he wanted and he probably had words at half-time, he changed things a little bit.
"But in the second half they played like the Newcastle I have seen over the years he has been there and they could have nicked a draw, which would have been unbelievable on the night.
"So I am expecting a tough game against a team who on their day can take anyone apart."
While Mackay may have only good things to say about his opposite number, the Scot will be keen to head into the international break with a win which could move Cardiff into the top half of the table.
Last weekend's 2-1 win at Fulham, courtesy of Jordon Mutch's late strike, was City's first on the road this term.
Pardew has warned his Newcastle players they cannot afford to rely on Yohan Cabaye digging them out of trouble every week.
The 27-year-old France international was left out of the starting line-up for Monday night's defeat at Everton with his manager feeling something had not been quite right with him in training.
However, with his side trailing 3-0 at half-time and in danger of succumbing to a humiliating defeat, Pardew threw Cabaye on and watched him orchestrate a fightback which came up just short as they lost 3-2.
The Frenchman is likely to be restored on Saturday, when his manager will hope for more of the same, although he admits an over-reliance on a man who was coveted by Arsenal during the summer would be a dangerous thing.
Asked if Cabaye's display at Everton illustrated why it was so important for Newcastle to retain his services, Pardew said: "Yes, but we mustn't rely on him.
"His forward passing, his forward thinking got us back into the game, but there will be times when he is not there and we need to have that same attitude.
"But the answer to your question is he is very important. He's a great player and this club needs great players.
"He is one of the players who gives us the consistency of performance every week, and that's what some of our guys are searching for."
Newcastle head for South Wales needing a victory to rekindle their season after successive league defeats by Hull and the Toffees, and in the circumstances, Cabaye's name on the teamsheet would come as a welcome boost.
Pardew said: "He has trained this week since the game with no problems, and I don't see any issue with him in terms of starting this particular game."
Whether or not he will be joined by striker Papiss Cisse remains to be seen after the Senegal international was also not selected for the team at Everton despite ending his 11-game goal drought in the 2-0 Capital One Cup victory over Leeds the previous week.
The form of loan signing Loic Remy, who has scored three times in his last two games for the club, has in part mitigated Cisse's barren spell.
The Magpies sit in 16th place in the league table - where they finished last season - just three points clear of the drop zone.