Newcastle United are refusing to panic after their first back-to-back defeats this season, according to Moussa Sissoko.
The Magpies go into tomorrow’s FA Cup third round visit of Cardiff City fresh from defeats by Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion, and without the suspended Mathieu Debuchy and the injured Fabricio Coloccini.
But Sissoko insists the club will keep those results inperspective. “There will not be any panic because we have lost a couple of matches,” said the France midfielder.
“We are still in the top eight positions in the table, and compared to where we were last year, that is still good.
“We know we can improve, but we can be fairly pleased with our efforts so far. Whenever you lose, you are not happy. But that is football. We lost at West Brom, but the most important thing now is the next game.
“It’s disappointing to lose two games in a row, but it is not as though we have suddenly started playing badly. We are still playing well. We are still on course for a very good season, but now we have to make sure we get back to winning games on Saturday. We play against Cardiff in the FA Cup, and in terms of our confidence, it is very important that we win.”
Cardiff go into the game with a new manager after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was yesterday confirmed as Malky Mackay’s appointment.
The Magpies’ FA Cup record is dismal under Alan Pardew. They have won one of four matches in the competition, knocked out every season by Football League opposition.
The defeats to Brighton and Hove Albion (twice) and Stevenage featured weakened teams, causing many supporters to demand cup success be made a higher priority at St James’ Park.
Sissoko, who joined from Toulouse last January, insists it matters to him. “The FA Cup is very important to us,” he commented. “Those of us who arrived last January never got the chance to play in the competition because Newcastle had already been knocked out. Obviously, we are looking to do much better this year.
“For the players and the club, the cup is an important chance to achieve something special. We will certainly be giving our maximum in the cup, and if we could win it, it would be absolutely amazing. Because of our position in the league, we can really give the cup everything we have got.
“There have been a lot of games at the moment, and the same players have played in a lot of them. Maybe the manager will change a few things but if he does not, we will be giving everything we can to beat Cardiff.
“We will train today and then the manager will decide (who plays). Whoever he picks, the team will be ready for the game.”
One player who will not be making his FA Cup debut is Debuchy, sent off for a two-footed lunge at Claudio Yacob on New Year’s Day.
After the match Pardew refused to divulge if the right-back had apologised to his team-mates for the moment of madness, which his manager said changed the game. Sissoko maintained there was no need.
“We are all 100% behind Mathieu,” he said. “There is absolutely no doubt that he played the ball, but he went in with two feet and that is why he was punished.
“The referee (Lee Mason) decided it was dangerous and we have to live with that. But we all know that Mathieu is not a dangerous player and he certainly did not let anyone down. He has nothing to say sorry for. These things happen in football.
“On this occasion he took a red card and we will be without him for the next few games. But we will cope when he is not there and we know he was only trying to do his best for the team.”
Meanwhile, Mark Hughes has been fined the standard £8,000 after admitting misconduct in Stoke City’s Boxing Day game at St James’.
Hughes theatrically threw his coat into the air after being sent to the stands for disputing Glenn Whelan’s dismissal in the 5-1 defeat. Marc Wilson was also sent off three minutes later.