Pardew prepared to face flak
Published 02/05/2014 | 18:42
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is happy to take the blame for the club's failings this season if it keeps the pressure off his players.
A run of six consecutive Barclays Premier League defeats has left the Magpies marooned in mid-table at the end of a season which initially promised much more.
Such is the anger of supporters over what they feel is the latest in a series of wasted opportunities that they are planning to stage a protest during Saturday's final home game of the campaign against Cardiff.
Much of the ire which has in the past been directed at owner Mike Ashley and ill-fated former director of football Joe Kinnear is now being aimed at the manager, and he has no problem with that.
He said: "It's a job that comes with fantastic highs and also deep lows, and you have to cope with those equally well.
"I have tried to be balanced with the players this week and the pressure is very much on me.
"Sometimes it angles towards someone. Sometimes it's the owner, sometimes it's the players - this time, it's me and in a way, that's probably better for the team on this occasion.
"We all know the importance of the game for us as a club, and the club comes first. Forget about me and everything else, that's very important.
"I think that's been lost a little bit this week. This is about Newcastle and the pride that we have. Our pride has been dented. "
Newcastle went much of the way towards eradicating last season's struggle against relegation when they surged into the top six during the first half of the campaign, with star midfielder Yohan Cabaye to the fore.
However, his not unexpected £19million sale to Paris St Germain in January pulled the rug from under their feet, with Ashley deciding not to replace him immediately.
That, on top of two summers of perceived under-investment, left fans in mutinous mood to the point where spectators are being asked to stage a walk-out during the Cardiff game.
The Newcastle United Supporters Trust is urging supporters to consider leaving the stadium with 69 minutes played to symbolise their unrest with a club which lifted its last major trophy in 1969.
Pardew will have striker Luuk De Jong back from an ankle injury, but midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa seems unlikely to be included once again after training away from the main group.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes it would "definitely be a bigger miracle" than Manchester United's epic 1999 Champions League final triumph if Cardiff can avoid relegation.
Solskjaer and Teddy Sheringham scored injury-time goals as United beat Bayern Munich 2-1 in Barcelona on one of British football's most famous nights.
The current Cardiff manager now faces the task of trying to keep his team afloat.
Currently bottom of the league, they require victories in their final two games - at Newcastle on Saturday and against Cardiff City Stadium visitors Chelsea in nine days' time - to retain any survival hope.
Even then, they still need other results to work in their favour, but Solskjaer has no intention of throwing in the towel.
"If we stay up it would definitely be a bigger miracle than Barcelona in 1999," he said.
"That night it was possible, and in football anything is possible. So we need to give ourselves a chance in front of our fans against Chelsea.
"It takes belief, togetherness, a team that goes the extra mile, and a hero stepping forward and doing something magical.
"It's still possible, it's still possible that we are out of the bottom three if we win this weekend. We have got to give ourselves something to play for in the last game by winning this game.
"One of the key points is just imagine how this place (Cardiff City Stadium) will be next weekend if we have got something to play for, when we have got something to play for.
"Let's give ourselves a chance by beating Newcastle, because this place will be absolutely rocking if we are in with a chance."
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