STAND-IN skipper Cheik Tiote is relishing leading Newcastle United out against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, where he was controversially sent off last season in a 1-1 draw.
Quietly-spoken Tiote insists he won’t be distracted from the job in hand during the build-up to Sunday’s derby. And he knows he must keep his discipline.
“I don’t read anything on the internet,” Tiote said. “It isn’t important for me. We just have to focus in the most important area – on the pitch.
“If we do our jobs, we will win games. That is the most important thing.
“We must stay compact as a team and stay together. If we do, we’ll win the game. When you’re on the pitch you have to give everything.”
Tiote put in his best performance of the year in the club’s 2-2 draw against Liverpool, which followed a 2-1 win over Cardiff City.
Those fixtures followed back-to-back Premier League defeats to Everton and Hull City.
And Tiote feels Newcastle’s performances against Liverpool and Cardiff have answered some of the questions that were being asked about the team, which narrowly avoided relegation last term.
“There is no escape from the criticism if we lose games,” said the 27-year-old. “It’s hard, but we know we have good players in this team.
“If everybody is focused we will do well. The only way we can answer people is by winning.
“If we lose we have to make sure we don’t repeat the mistakes. We have been trying to do that in the last few games.
“Our fans have travelled everywhere. I’m always happy when we give them wins. We don’t want to send them home unhappy.”
Tiote lasted just 25 minutes of the game on Wearside last season.
With Newcastle leading through Yohan Cabaye’s early free kick, Tiote was dismissed for catching Steven Fletcher with a raised boot.
A late Demba Ba own goal earned Sunderland a point.