Pardew: We must keep focus

Alan Pardew insists Newcastle's Europa League exploits cannot be allowed to threaten their Premier League future.

Last Updated: 31/03/13 at 14:38 Post Comment

PArdew: Saw his side lose at Manchester City

PArdew: Saw his side lose at Manchester City

Although the Magpies were unable to repeat the consistency of last term's outstanding top flight form, their European adventure has brought a positive glow to their campaign.

Thursday brings another eagerly-anticipated trip to Portugal, for a meeting with two-time European Cup winners Benfica.

Yet the glamour has been tarnished either side of the international break.

A controversial defeat at Wigan has been followed by a four-goal hammering at Manchester City that leaves Pardew and his players just four points above the drop zone, close enough to bring owner Mike Ashley into a nervous sweat.

So, while Pardew is looking forward to an outing in the Stadium of Light, concerns on the home front are pressing.

"We have done well in the Europa League, but it can't detract from the Premier League," he said.

"We have to make sure we are safe.

"We need two victories at least, and maybe a third or a fourth to get ourselves into a strong position."

Yet the drain on his players is clear for all to see, with Cheick Tiote and Davide Santon amongst the players to miss out through injury yesterday.

"The Europa League is going to put us under pressure, because we are missing some big players at the moment," said Pardew.

"But we didn't do ourselves any favours against City because we were not aggressive enough."

Apart from a brief flurry at the start of the second-half, Newcastle were outplayed throughout.

Carlos Tevez's seventh goal in six games broke the deadlock and David Silva added another before the break.

Then returning skipper Vincent Kompany flicked home a wayward Gareth Barry shot and Yaya Toure wrapped up the scoring shortly before Sergio Aguero was introduced after recovering from his knee injury.

This was all positive news ahead of the impending Manchester derby at Old Trafford next Monday, and the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United or Chelsea that follows.

However, as City manager Roberto Mancini acknowledged, it does little for City's Premier League campaign.

"Maybe it is too late," said Mancini.

"I am happy with the performance. We played well and moved the ball, just like last season.

"It is true to say we have not played like that often enough. But it is not always possible to play like last year.

"This season we went up and down and didn't have continuity in our play."

Mancini bemoaned injuries. He could just as easily have pointed out that many of his leading players have failed to match last season's high standards.

Samir Nasri has been amongst those the Italian has directly criticised, although there were no grumbles yesterday as the former Arsenal man collected a deserved man of the match award.

However, as Mancini pointed out, it has come too late in the league.

Now City must secure second spot and lift the FA Cup to give Mancini the semblance of further progress after last year's momentous exploits.

"It is impossible United can lose 15 points in eight games," said Mancini.

"Even if we win at Old Trafford it won't change anything. The league is a fight for second. We can say nothing about first place.

"All we can do now is our best in the last eight games and also in the semi-final."


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