NEWCASTLE boss Alan Pardew admitted Sunderland were deserved winners in yesterday’s derby.
While reluctant to make excuses for an abject performance, Pardew felt fatigue from Thursday night’s Europa League tie against Benfica was a factor – with the Black Cats having a full week to prepare.
“We couldn’t match them. They had an energy level above us,” said Pardew.
“In the end, a couple of good saves from their goalie (Simon Mignolet), and a couple of wonder strikes, have made a horrible result for us.
“You’re looking at the team, and you just know that ain’t our team. We looked tired in the mind and tired in the body.
“I’m not making excuses for me or the team, but I don’t think you needed to be a professional to know that one team looked really fresh, and one didn’t.
“A week’s work with the group got them in good shape. They defended well.
“We still had a big chance in that game. If the linesman had given that goal (Papiss Cisse had an effort chalked off, wrongly, for offside), suddenly a goal can do wondrous things to your energy levels.”
Pardew made five changes, with Cheik Tiote, Yoan Gouffran, Mathieu Debuchy, Steven Taylor and Sylvain Marveaux returning, but confessed that it was a game too far for Yohan Cabaye and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.
Few of Newcastle’s players emerged from the one-sided game with any credit.
Cabaye, off-key since suffering a minor groin injury last month, struggled to impose himself, while Yanga-Mbiwa was given a torrid afternoon by Danny Graham.
“Three or four players ... you have to (ask) whether they could play that game,” he added.
“Mapou and Cabaye, in particular, looked really tired.
“You don’t really know until you get out there.”
Asked if his derby debutants understood what the game was about, Pardew added: “I think they got it.
“But if you’re not at your full battery levels, it’s difficult to put that out of the pitch.
“Sometimes your levels are such that you just can’t match the opposition.”