ALAN Pardew insists Newcastle United’s confidence remains intact despite a nightmare weekend of results which sent them sliding out of the top four.
Chelsea’s 6-1 dismantling of Queens Park Rangers and Tottenham’s 2-0 victory over Blackburn yesterday leaves United in fifth on the back of their own 4-0 defeat at Wigan the previous day.
Despite Chelsea now lying just a point behind them, and Spurs taking fourth spot on goal difference, the Magpies travel to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday still in with a realistic shout of a top-four finish.
Whether or not fourth spot ultimately means Champions League football relies on Chelsea blowing the final against Bayern Munich in two and a half weeks’ time, with Pardew admitting: “It certainly got talked about, but there are a million factors you can say about a team.
“I don’t know if that was a factor [at Wigan], is the honest answer, but it is something that is hanging over all those teams who are going for fourth.
Focusing on keeping the wheels turning despite a weekend to forget, he added: “I don’t think confidence is a problem.
“We have just got to make sure we are strong defensively, that we keep in our roles and keep it tight. If we do that we can score goals.
“Saturday is gone, there is nothing we can do to change that and we will go to Chelsea not without any confidence – I can assure you of that.
“We had a bad half at Fulham, and a couple at Tottenham, so it is important we keep it in perspective.”
Chelsea’s unceremonious hammering of QPR yesterday suggested that Newcastle will still have their hands full midweek in the capital despite the Blues having FA Cup and Champions League finals to distract them, although injuries to defensive duo Gary Cahill and David
Luiz offered some small crumbs of comfort.
And after six wins on the bounce Pardew was in no mind to dwell on one off day at the DW Stadium, crediting Wigan for their well-deserved triumph rather than labouring on the shortcomings of his own troops.
With one-time United target Victor Moses putting the Latics two up inside 14 minutes, the manager said: “Wigan’s early goals were the key. We lost our way a little bit in that last 20 minutes of the first half, and that really is unlike us.
“When you have won six in a row you think you are going to get the game back. We chased it and gave them opportunities to get the extra two goals, and then it really was gone.”
Aiming to find the route of the problem, he added: “There are a lot of factors to consider, but the bottom line is that it is very difficult to put your finger on a single reason why.
“Wigan were aggressive, their movement was great and things were coming off for them. I thought the referee didn’t really help us either.
“Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t, but it all seemed to be going Wigan’s way in the first half.”
With wing-backs Emmerson Boyce and Jean Beausejour freed by a flat back three to fly up and down the channels and supply the ammunition, Pardew credited opposite number Roberto Martinez for a formation change which has pulled them out of the doldrums.
“Yeah, it does cause you a problem,” he said. “They overload the wide areas and pull you around, but I don’t want to say too many negative things about my team because I think that is unfair on Wigan.
“The great beauty of the Premier League is that teams come alive at a certain time of the season, and Wigan are certainly doing that at the moment.
“They did a good job on us, and you couldn’t say that they lacked confidence. Some of their play was very, very good, but for us it is about the next three games.”