Alan Pardew aims to bolster Newcastle United’s rearguard

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ALAN Pardew is determined that Newcastle United will start next season with a stronger defence.

The Magpies boss – who is interested in FC Twente’s Douglas and Ajax’s Jan Vertonghen – left Goodison Park yesterday frustrated at the defensive lapses that cost his team against Everton.

While Newcastle’s campaign has been an unqualified success – the club ended the season fifth in the Premier League, and secured Europa League football – Pardew is already looking at how he can improve his side.

He felt John Heitinga’s second-half goal was another which could have been stopped, the defender powerfully heading a Darron Gibson free-kick past Tim Krul to give Everton a 3-0 lead.

“The third goal summed us up this year,” Pardew said. “We should have prevented that, and we’ve had a few goals like that. So we’re going to improve at the back – definitely.”

Pardew – who lost first-choice defender Steven Taylor to injury in December – pointed to the club’s goal difference, which was significantly less than that of their rivals for a Champions League place, to back up his argument.

“The goal difference here this season is only plus five,” he added. “It means we’ve had to eek out a lot of wins. To get 19 wins and only have plus five shows there’s a bit of work to do.”

Newcastle almost went in front in the opening minute when a free-kick ricocheted around the Everton box, but Tim Howard dived on the ball to prevent it bouncing across the line and after Demba Ba had fired a shot well over, the hosts began to get into their stride.

Marouane Fellaini sent a header off-target and five minutes later, the Toffees had the lead when the Belgian midfielder teed up Stephen Pienaar, whose strike from outside the box took a deflection off Magpies defender Mike Williamson and looped in.

Pienaar almost had another in the 21st minute but rifled narrowly wide after the ball had come across goal to him from Leon Osman.

Everton kept pushing forward and just before the half-hour they did double their advantage through their in-form marksman Nikica Jelavic.

Having brought the ball down and unleashed one shot which Krul saved, the Croat was alert to tuck away the rebound for his 11th goal since joining the Merseyside club in January.

The hosts were mounting attack after attack, with Krul just beating Fellaini to a cross and Darron Gibson and Osman shooting wide.

Gibson then sent another effort down Krul’s throat, with Newcastle’s only reply in among the bombardment being a Jonas Gutierrez attempt which whistled the wrong side of the post.

The visitors managed to apply some pressure right at the end of the first half, but Cisse shot wide and Hatem Ben Arfa missed the target with a free-kick.

Cisse dragged a shot wide moments after the restart, but Everton were swiftly back on the offensive, with Jelavic turning and firing off-target.

Gibson brought a save out of Krul with a free-kick and after Howard had got in the way of a Ba strike, the Toffees added a third goal.

Heitinga was the man to head it home, connecting with another Gibson free-kick.

The job looked done for the hosts, but then Hibbert got in a mix-up and headed past his own goalkeeper.

It threw Newcastle a lifeline, and Howard then did well to claw away a header from Cisse.

The visitors could offer no more, though, and Everton might have had a fourth by the end, with Cahill being denied by Krul, Gibson shooting wide and Osman hitting the post.

There were disappointing scenes after the final whistle as players from both sides got involved in a skirmish, with Cahill being shown a red card.

Everton: Howard,Hibbert,Heitinga (Distin 70),Jagielka,Baines, Osman,Neville (Cahill 74),Gibson,Pienaar,Fellaini, Jelavic (Stracqualursi 83). Subs Not Used: Mucha,Gueye,Barkley,Coleman. Booked: Heitinga,Baines. Goals: Pienaar 16,Jelavic 27,Heitinga 65.

Newcastle: Krul,Perch (Marveaux 46),Williamson, Coloccini, Santon (Ryan Taylor 46),Cabaye,Tiote (Shola Ameobi 81),Ben Arfa, Gutierrez,Cisse,Ba. Subs Not Used: Elliot,Gosling,Obertan,Ferguson. Booked: Tiote. Goals: Hibbert 73 og.

Att: 39,517. Ref: Andre Marriner.