ALAN PARDEW came under fire from Newcastle United supporters at the Emirates last night before insisting he is determined to secure a top ten finish for the “best fans in the world”.
Around 2,000 Newcastle followers were in North London to witness Champions League chasing Arsenal cruise to a 3-0 win and condemn Newcastle to a sixth successive defeat for the first time since the 1986-87 season.
Throughout the latest reversal there were regular calls for Pardew to lose his job from the travelling support, similar to the way they reacted when Newcastle slipped to defeat at Stoke City on April 12.
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The Newcastle manager refused to be critical of the supporters' reaction towards him, instead he chose to focus on Saturday's visit of relegation threatened Cardiff City to end the season on a high at St James' Park.
When he was asked if he deserved the reaction he got from the crowd, he said: “I can't determine that. All I can do is to try to get my team in the best possible place.
“We could have got really harmed at 2-0 at half-time. I think we have come out on a football basis with our dignity still there and we need to take that in to Saturday. “It's very important our stadium gives us the same opportunity it did against Swansea when it was actually a good atmosphere to play in. We have got the best fans in the world and I really hope on Saturday we give them something they deserve. They don't deserve the recent run we have offered up to them.”
Chants like 'we're going to party when Pardew gets the sack', 'Alan Pardew it's six in a row' and 'we want Pardew out' could be heard throughout the night at the Emirates.
And the Newcastle boss said: “I think the fans are frustrated. We had 2,000 here tonight and they made the long trip here and although we are playing a good team they expect us to win, they have seen us lose again and they are not happy. I have to respect that.
“All I can do as a manager is to make sure I do this job to the best of my ability. We have been top ten all year, this recent run is not something I am hiding from. We should have performed better in this run. We have got to finish in the top ten.
“If Cardiff fans think it is important for them on Saturday, trust me it is important for our fans too. It's as big a game for our fans as it is for them.”
Newcastle started quite brightly until Laurent Koscielny slid in to finish Santi Cazorla's free-kick in the 26th minute. Mesut Ozil, despite claims for offside, then added a second three minutes before the break.
At that point the Gunners, who have moved four points ahead of fifth placed Everton, looked like they would run at a canter. However, they only scored one more when Olivier Giroud scored a lovely header 24 minutes before the end.
Pardew: “Coming to Arsenal, especially with Ozil and Aaron Ramsey back to full fitness is difficult. I thought they were very imaginative and caused us problems, but we defended really well in that first period. We had a good foot hold in the game until the first goal and probably the period just before half-time has proved costly for us.
“They are chasing Champions League positions, had we scored when Yoan Gouffran had a shot, or one of the other chances, we could have put some nervousness in their game.
“Once they had a two-nil lead, they kept that for most of the night, it was difficult for us. I thought we showed tremendous character in the second half, because that's a difficult scenario … after five defeats. At least we showed in the second half which was good.”
Newcastle sit ninth, four points ahead of 11th placed Crystal Palace with two matches remaining. It remains to be seen whether Frenchman Hatem Ben Arfa will be involved in either of the last couple of fixtures.
Ben Arfa was left on Tyneside last night and he revealed his omission on a social networking site. His lawyer, Jean-Jaques Bertrand, has since hinted that he could leave this summer.
Bertrand said: “Hatem has two possibilities. Either he utilises Article 17, which is a FIFA regulation that allows after three years without an alteration to a contract with a club for that contract to be terminated. Hatem can do that this year.
“Or he could also sort his situation out with the club. What must not happen is that Hatem is destabilised and is made to look like it is he who is trying to leave the club.”
Pardew explained his reasons for leaving him out by stating: “He's fit. I've picked the team tonight, as simple as that, to try to get a result.”