ALAN Pardew has challenged the “bruised egos” in his dressing room to face down their critics and quell the discontent of Newcastle United’s “restless” support.
United head to the Potteries tonight on the back of a deeply damaging three-match losing streak that has thrust them into the mix at the wrong end of the Premier League table and prompted the first serious questions of the Pardew era.
The Newcastle manager acknowledged that some of the criticism of him and the players has been deserved, but appealed for the supporters to stick with the squad as they look to bounce back at the Britannia. In a forthright pre-match address, Pardew admitted that expectations have had to be re-evaluated, with the United boss now of the opinion that they face a “long road” to the top six.
And in another admission that things aren’t going to plan, he revealed that the team have revised their dead-ball strategy after candidly confessing that it simply wasn’t working. But with Steven Taylor and Yohan Cabaye set to be missing for the next eight weeks, Pardew is looking for senior players to step up and sort out the situation.
“There are a few players hurting from their performances
but great players fight that and are able to answer the criticism,” he said. “When you lose three games in a row at Newcastle, it’s coming your way and you have to deal with that. As a manager I am now looking to my big senior players.
“I am looking to Ba, Cissé, Colo, Krul, Santon, Cheick, Simpson to see us through this period.”
Newcastle’s run of form has prompted serious questions and, while Pardew feels the advent of social media has ensured pressure is applied more quickly in the modern game, he has told his players to deal with it.
“There are a few egos being knocked. I think that is understandable and not a bad thing. But it’s about the reaction and how you react to it,” he said.
“We are well aware that the fans are restless for a performance, let alone a win, but so are we.
“We have had some unfortunate blows with injuries and I think the fans need to help us along the way.
“Whatever their opinion is, if the team is playing poorly or the manager has made an incorrect decision, we really need them because if they turn their back on us we will really have a problem.
“They haven’t done that so far and the media criticism in today’s society and modern football world is part and parcel of what goes on. You have to deal with it.
“The criticism is warranted to a certain degree, because the performance level hasn’t been great in the Premier League.
“In Europe we have tried to find a pattern that works for us, but in doing so we have harmed ourselves with injuries and a little bit of fatigue, as much as we have tried to protect that group of players who we feel will be important for us on a Sunday.
“But we aren’t moaning about it. We have qualified in Europe, so we have achieved something already this season.
“You can’t take that positive away. We have won three games and now we have to try and win another three very quickly.”
Pardew also admits that the club must shelve talk of trying to replicate last season’s top-six finish and concentrate on remedying their form first.
“I won’t say it’s beyond as I don’t know what has happened in the past, but it will be a long, long run for us,” he said.
“The crucial period for us will be now until the first of February.”
Newcastle Under-18s were beaten 3-0 by Arsenal in last night’s FA Youth Cup third-round tie at Barnet’s Underhill ground.