Everyone needs to work harder – Alan Pardew

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ALAN Pardew says its time for his players to start “looking at each other in the eyes” after Newcastle United’s season took another turn for the worse.

Alan Pardew offered no excuses for Saturday’s dismal 4-0 defeat to Stoke City.

The loss left Newcastle four points above the Premier League’s relegation zone, with eight games left to play.

Pardew and his players now have two weeks to stew on the result, their next game not being until April 2, when they take on an improving Wolverhampton Wanderers at St James’s Park.

And Pardew said: “It’s now about looking at each other in the eye.

“We have to accept the results we’ve had. All we can do is to make sure we’re right for Wolves, and that we can put our best possible team out.

“Our medical team need to work hard, and the coaching team need to work hard to get that win.”

Jonathan Walters opened the scoring in the first half, and Pardew’s interval team-talk went unheeded, Jermaine Pennant and Danny Higginbotham effectively killing the game off with two goals early in the new half.

Ricardo Fuller netted in injury-time to give Stoke their biggest win in the Premier League.

“It was hugely disappointing in terms of the scoreline,” Pardew went on.

“It flattered Stoke, if I’m being totally honest. The first five minutes of the second half put a bad reflection on the game.

“When we conceded those two goals, that’s where the game was lost.

“(In the first half), we looked like a team that was comfortable with what we were doing.

“We were defending the set plays well, and we dealt with the long throw from Rory Delap. We did a lot of things really well.

“But you can’t start a half of football the way we did, and that’s something we are going to have to address going forward because they caught us cold. You just can’t do that in the Premier League.”

It was a jaded performance from a jaded team on a forgettable afternoon at the Britannia Stadium.

Yet Alan Pardew’s side had gone into the game on the back of an enforced two-week break, and Stoke City, still gamely fighting on two fronts, had barely paused for breath.

Maybe the tiredness on display was as much mental as physical given the inevitable ups and downs any season at St James’s Park seemingly brings.

And on this evidence, Newcastle will limp over the finish line this season.

Relegation is again a worry, as Pardew conceded after the 4-0 defeat, but surely two wins from eight games isn’t beyond United, who had been looking to break into the European place a few short weeks ago.

When the story of this season is eventually written, it’ll be hard to know where to start. Over-achievers or under-achievers? It’s difficult to know.

Stoke: Begovic, Wilson, Shawcross, Huth, Higginbotham, Pennant (Whitehead 80), Delap, Whelan, Etherington (Pugh 60), Jones (Fuller 88), Walters. Subs Not Used: Sorensen, Collins, Diao, Wilkinson. Goals: Walters 28, Pennant 46, Higginbotham 49, Fuller 90.

Newcastle: Harper, Coloccini, Williamson, Campbell (Gutierrez 66), Jose Enrique (Ferguson 23), Simpson, Barton, Nolan, Tiote, Lovenkrands (Ranger 61), Ameobi. Subs Not Used: Krul, Guthrie, Steven Taylor, Kuqi.

Att: 27,505 Ref: Lee Mason (Lancashire)