Posted on Apr 28
Alan Pardew insists Newcastle are still firmly in the race to qualify for the Champions League despite a shock 4-0 defeat at Wigan.
Entering Saturday's game on the back of six consecutive victories, and having not conceded a goal for 398 minutes, Newcastle saw goalkeeper Tim Krul beaten by two Victor Moses strikes and further efforts from Shaun Maloney and Franco Di Santo before half-time.
Next up for Newcastle is a tough game on Wednesday away to a Chelsea team preparing for the FA Cup final against Liverpool on Saturday and for a Champions League final against Bayern Munich next month.
But Pardew is confident Newcastle will bounce back and finish fourth, even though fifth-placed Tottenham will move above the Magpies on goal difference with a win over Blackburn on Sunday.
"I don't think you have any worries about that," he said. "Everyone looked at us and said if we won at Wigan, we had a great chance of Champions League football but we had three tough games left.
"We've lost at Wigan now so those three games could mean something else.
"There was no intensity here but there will be on Wednesday night. It is going to be a tough game, bearing in mind they have the FA Cup final on Saturday, but Champions League football is not away from us by any stretch of the imagination."
In truth, with the Chelsea match being followed by a home game with title-chasing Manchester City, the stunning loss at Wigan may yet prove the difference between Newcastle playing in the Champions League season and not.
Chelsea, by reaching the Champions League final, have further clouded the issue as, should they beat Bayern, fourth place in the Premier League will not carry with it a place in the competition next season.
Finishing third in the league, behind the two Manchester clubs, is the only way Newcastle could be completely certain of qualification but the loss to Wigan has reduced the chances of that happening.
Pardew, however, has no concerns that a memorable season in the top flight is about to fizzle out.
Asked if he planned wholesale changes for the visit to Stamford Bridge after such a woeful display, Pardew was quick to back his players.
"No. I didn't see any problems from any of my players," Pardew said.
"We failed as a team, not as individuals. It will be important that we go to Chelsea on Wednesday with a real away game mentality, which we didn't have today.
"Sometimes, when you have won six on the trot, you can go away and think, 'We're going to win today'.
"That result will put shock into the players, more than the management, and I expect a reaction from them on Wednesday."
Wigan, having collected 15 points from the last available 21, are three points above the relegation zone and have now beaten three of the division's top four teams during that period -- Newcastle suffering the same fate as Arsenal and Manchester United.
Next up is an intriguing derby game at fellow strugglers Blackburn a week on Monday, followed by a final day home fixture with already-relegated Wolves.
Latics manager Roberto Martinez believes his side will need at least one more victory from those matches to survive.
"Blackburn is going to be a phenomenal occasion," he said. "Then we have Wolves. We've got to get as many points as we can because 37 will not be enough.
"It depends on other results and I don't think there have been many seasons when a team has got 40 points and been relegated. But 40 points seems to be the safety mark.
"I expect a lot of surprises between now and the end of the season. I expect a lot of teams at the bottom to pick up points when people don't expect them to, but we just have to look at ourselves."