NEWCASTLE UNITED manager Alan Pardew has admitted failure to secure a top-ten finish would be damaging for the club going into a summer of uncertainty.
The Magpies suffered a fifth successive defeat to Swansea City to record their worst ever run of form since the Premier League began even though Shola Ameobi’s 23rd minute strike ended a run of 363 minutes without a goal.
It was Newcastle’s 13th defeat in 18 games and Pardew’s men are now left looking over their shoulders in their quest to finish in the top half of the table.
What looked a certainly a matter of months ago is now hanging in the balance with their wretched run of form allowing the teams below to gain ground. Stoke City are two points behind in tenth, but Crystal Palace, who were threatened with relegation not so long ago, are now only three points off in 11th.
Newcastle are set for a summer of changes with several first-team players’ futures uncertain, and Pardew admits failing to achieve their pre-season objective would be detrimental going into the close season.
“Yes, I think it would be damaging for us,” said Pardew, who will wait for the results of scans for both Luuk de Jong and Papiss Cisse. “I would like to think we will still secure that.
“I think it is very important (we end the season well). If someone said to me the game would follow the course it did before the ending, I would probably have taken it.
“We are going to have to work hard because we need to really be more resilient in these three games than perhaps we would needed to have been if we’d won today.
“We need to show a strength of character. I thought we showed that, we have had a lot of pressure on us this week.
“It was a tough day I must say. In terms of the personnel we had available, I thought we put a decent performance in and on another day we could have won. It really is hurting at the moment.”
Pardew has been under pressure from sections of supporters with chants of ‘we want Pardew out’ heard coming from the away end at Stoke City last weekend. Despite losing to a stoppage time penalty from Wilfried Bony on Saturday, there was only tentative booing from the home crowd.
“I was actually buoyed by that I must say and I thank them for that,” Pardew said. “Unfortunately right at the end there, we haven’t got them anything and that is what they want.
“They wanted a result and we didn’t manage to do it just for a couple of tiny errors and we are going to have to really work hard this week to make sure at Arsenal we are at our best. Then Cardiff here will be a big game, we will have to win that I think.
“I couldn’t argue with the crowd, I thought they were brilliant for us. Unfortunately we just couldn’t bring them home.”
Supporters have been growing increasingly frustrated with Pardew’s post-match comments in particular, but the Magpies boss insists he is not making excuses to take the pressure away from himself.
He said: “I have to stand here and justify and defend my players and I have to make sure they are right for next week. So sometimes you say things, generalisations a little bit, to protect the players and staff.
“My whole responsibility is them. I have to make sure they put a performance in next week. And if certain sections of the fans think I am standing here making excuses, I am far from that.
“I always stand up to my responsibilities and I make sure my players do too. I am going to end with this because I think we all need to lick our wounds a little bit and be ready for next week.
“People who know me will know I stand up for myself, but I have to do it in the right manner. I am manager of a very very big club here and I take responsibility when we lose and I’ll have to take that today.”