ALAN Pardew has told his mentally-scarred Newcastle United team that only fighting performances in the last five games of the season can make up for yesterday’s derby humiliation.
But producing them will be that much harder after goalkeeper Tim Krul was ruled out for the season with a dislocated shoulder.
Knowing a win could have all but taken them out of the Premier League relegation battle, Newcastle suffered their biggest defeat at Sunderland’s hands in 34 years.
“It’s about us making sure we put performances in from now until the end of the season that can help to ease the memory of this defeat because it ain’t going to go away,” manager Pardew admitted after a 3-0 defeat at St James’ Park.
“We’ll have to wear it, probably next year as well. That’s what happens when you lose one of these games. We’re under no illusions as to the responsibility we have to our fans and we’ve let them down today, 100%.
“I don’t think it’s ever not going to affect the manner of my season, a defeat like that. To our fans that’s everything. We just have to make sure in the last five games we put that right and get some work done on the training ground.”
Pardew blamed tiredness and the officials for the 3-0 defeat, which he admitted was one of his worst as United manager. “It’s up there for sure,” he said. “The team just didn’t perform today as we would have wanted. Most of the
things we attempted to do just didn’t come off.”
Newcastle were involved in a draining 1-1 draw in Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final at home to Benfica, while Sunderland had not played since new manager Paolo Di Canio’s first game, at Chelsea seven days earlier.
“After Thursday night we couldn’t really do much because of the (energy) levels of those players,” argued Pardew, who made five changes from Thursday’s starting line-up.
“Three or four of those players never trained after Thursday, they just had a short warm-up and a massage and went out again.
“They looked really tired. I thought (Yohan) Cabaye looked really tired today, Mapou (Yanga-Mbiwa) in particular, even Papiss (Cissé) looked a little bit tired today. It’s enough at this level.” Newcastle had a Cissé goal wrongly disallowed for offside half an hour after Stéphane Sessègnon’s opener, though Pardew seemed more concerned about a dubious penalty claim earlier in the game when the ball appeared to strike Carlos Cuellar’s hand.
He pointed to that, and the moment Krul dislocated his shoulder coming for a cross, as the pivotal moments. “We were always struggling in that game,” he reflected. “We did get a little lift at 60 minutes and the referee denied us even that, or the linesman (by disallowing Cissé’s “goal”).
“It was a great day for Sunderland and an awful day for us.
“A couple of crucial moments I thought were the penalty decision and then losing Tim cost me a pair of legs out on the field. It only left me with one sub, which was important.
“Those two moments probably sealed the win for Sunderland.”
The defeat was only Newcastle’s second in 13 years of matches against Sunderland, and their first on Tyneside in that time.
It leaves Newcastle still in relegation danger, five points above the relegation zone and two above Sunderland. Stoke City’s defeat by Manchester United at least ensured that four teams sit between the Magpies and the bottom three.
Newcastle’s next game is on Saturday at West Bromwich Albion, the first of three away from home in the final five matches of the season.