MANAGER Alan Pardew has admitted Newcastle United are falling behind in the battle for European places.
An out-of-sorts Newcastle were beaten 1-0 by West Ham at St James’s Park on Sunday, a result which left the club 10th in the Premier League ahead of Saturday’s home game against Swansea City.
Pardew is adamant that the club’s Europa League campaign this season can not be used as an excuse.
Newcastle are only four points off sixth-placed West Ham, but some of the performances this season, and in particular a number of flat starts in domestic games, are of a concern to Pardew.
And the issue is likely to be addressed when the club’s players return from international duty later this week.
“This is a big game now – it’s just about the next game, and nothing else,” Pardew said.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position where we don’t want to be in mid-table. We want to threaten the top half of the Premier League. The West Ham result has knocked us back a bit.”
Newcastle drew 2-2 with Club Brugge last Thursday. And Pardew has previously conceded the team is struggling to adjust to the competiting demands of domestic and European football.
Long journeys to Madeira and Athens for previous away games against Maritimo and Atromitos were far from ideal.
However, Pardew made nine changes for the West Ham fixture, and given the short travelling time to Belgium – the flight was less than a hour – he isn’t using the game as an excuse.
“There’s no excuse – we should have won,” said Pardew.