DESPITE Monday night’s defeat to Arsenal, Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew believes his touchline return can spark an improvement in performances in the final two games of the season.
Pardew made his first dugout appearance since completing a seven-match touchline ban at the Emirates, but his presence couldn’t prevent the Magpies slipping to another heavy defeat with the Gunners strolling to a 3-0 win in north London.
Newcastle struggled for form during Pardew’s absence for head-butting Hull City midfielder David Meyler with the side managing just one win over Crystal Palace in the seven games their manager was missing.
After a wretched run of six successive defeats – their worst run since 1986/87 – Newcastle’s hopes of achieving their pre-season objective of a top ten finish are fading.
As things stand, they sit two points ahead of Stoke City with Crystal Palace a further point behind in 11th place, making Saturday’s home game with Cardiff City a must win going into their final game at title-chasing Liverpool, and Pardew believes his presence can help the side.
“It always makes a difference because we are a team and it is important the manager has a voice on the side,” the Magpies boss said. “There are a couple of times you need to control a player if he has made a mistake or done something good, to reinforce some belief in them.
“I am disappointed we have ended up with a defeat because I think overall we have no injuries so Saturday is an important game for us. We need to focus on that to get ourselves a win.”
With two games to go, Newcastle have confirmed their participation in a second pre-season tour which will see the Magpies play two games in New Zealand.
Pardew’s men are already lined up for the inaugural Schalke 04 Cup at the beginning of August and they have now confirmed their participation in the Football United Tour 2014, which will include games against Australian A-League sides Sydney FC at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on July 22 (kick-off 7:30pm NZST; 8:30am BST) and Wellington Phoenix at the Westpac Stadium in the capital on Saturday, July 26 (kick-off TBC).
West Ham will also play both A-League teams on alternate days and Pardew said: “We are very much looking forward to being part of the Football United Tour and to training and playing at first class facilities in Dunedin and Wellington.
“Football has grown impressively in both New Zealand and Australia in recent years, with some excellent players and teams coming to the fore, so the Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC fixtures will provide a good test for our players as we prepare them for next season.”
Meanwhile, German giants Bayern Munich are the latest club to show an interest in Newcastle striker Loic Remy, who is already interesting several clubs at home and abroad.
Munich, who crashed out of the Champions League on Tuesday night, are understood to be looking at the Frenchman as a possible replacement for Mario Mandzukic, who is set to leave the Allianz Arena in the summer.
* Tickets for the Football United Tour 2014 go on sale to existing Wellington Phoenix FC members before reaching public sale. Tickets for Newcastle United v Sydney FC in Dunedin will be on general sale from Wednesday, May 21 via www.ticketdirect.co.nz. Tickets for the double-header at Westpac Stadium in Wellington will be available from Friday, May 16, via www.ticketek.co.nz using the password OZUNITED.
Adult ticket prices start from $59 for general public with child tickets from $16. For more information, please visit www.wellingtonphoenix.com.