VURNON Anita admits there is no hiding place for Newcastle United’s under-fire players as their season heads towards breaking point on Monday night.
United’s fourth defeat in a row on Wednesday night was a devastating denouement after a much-improved effort but despite Anita’s talk of an air of positivity returning to the camp, there is no doubt that the pressure is on when Wigan Athletic visit St James’ Park.
Defeat by Stoke means Newcastle could slide closer to the bottom three before then, and the Latics are not a team that traditionally roll over when they come to Tyneside. With their patient, passing approach they could have the potential to frustrate Alan Pardew’s team.
Not least because United will be missing creative sparks like Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa – who is unlikely to return until the Fulham trip at the earliest.
Pardew is preparing to run with what he has, and when he and his coaching team reassemble on Saturday morning they will discuss a possible gameplan to cope with the threat of Roberto Martinez’s side.
James Perch’s absence means a change will be required, and a surprise call for Romain Amalfitano is among the options being considered.
Sammy Ameobi may also feature from the start.
These are worrying times for Newcastle, who have now begun the process
of assembling a January transfer plan and have placed Toulouse midfielder Moussa Sissoko right at the top of their hit-list.
Before that, though, they must arrest their slide, with the onus on Anita and others to face down the challenge.
The Holland midfielder admits that the pressure is on and says that it is up to the players to come to terms with the size of the task ahead.
“The league table is not a nice thing to look to,” he said.
“We must focus on the good things, learn from those, keep working hard.
“We have lost the last two home games in the Premier League so we have to stop that on Monday. Wigan is the perfect time for us to change that.”
At least the team do not appear to be shying away from the severity of their situation.
Pardew admitted yesterday that his team are in the midst of a battle at the bottom of the Premier League, and Anita said that excuses do not wash.
“It’s not nice when we keep suffering injuries, suspensions, but that’s football. These things can happen.
“We must keep on fighting and keep the spirit up like we did on Wednesday. We did very well and we must keep that spirit high, bring it to the pitch.”
Those positives are what Pardew will focus on as he looks to try and arrest a slump that has visited the darkest days of his tenure on the team.
Anita says that Newcastle simply must concentrate on those.
He said: “The positive was that we were one-nil up, doing great, playing well, and I think we should try to forget the last ten minutes before the Wigan game.
“We must learn from our mistakes of course, but it is also to learn from the positives too. There were plenty of those, we have to take the positivity to Monday.
“We worked very hard, we chased them down very hard when we were out of possession. We must keep the faith even though we have lost this game in the end.
“We are all disappointed with the outcome but it is not all bad after this. We have to just work hard.”
l STOKE keeper Asmir Begovic has admitted he was unhappy with his role in Papiss Cisse’s goal against his side after he spilled Demba Ba’s shot on Wednesday.
He said: “It was personally very disappointing. I would have liked to do a little bit better with that but thankfully the guys bailed me out in the end.
“We’ve been playing really well at home so it would have been a shame to lose our run to that.
“I think it’s a great three points, it really kicks us on and we can be happy with the result.”