Belfast Telegraph

Williamson: Players behind Pardew

Newcastle defender Mike Williamson insists the squad remain "100 per cent" behind under-fire boss Alan Pardew despite lurching to another Barclays Premier League defeat on Monday night.

Pardew's position looked extremely precarious in the wake of the 1-0 defeat to Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium, but owner Mike Ashley has once again indicated the 53-year-old is under no immediate danger of the sack.

And while many Newcastle fans may be dismayed by Ashley's refusal to act to replace Pardew, Williamson maintains he continues to have the backing of the dressing room.

Williamson said: "We're all frustrated but he's been calm and he's showed composure and that's what we need.

"He's obviously come in for a lot of criticism but he's got a thick skin and he knows we can only get ourselves out of this position by going back to the drawing board and working hard.

"It shows on the pitch that we are 100 per cent behind him and we're doing everything we can."

Pardew is set to lead the Magpies to their next Premier League game at Swansea on Saturday - and is not even expected to endure "crisis" talks with Ashley.

That does not amount to an unlimited vote of confidence from the club's billionaire owner, but an acknowledgement that not all the problems the team is experiencing on the pitch are down to the manager.

Pardew's squad underwent significant change during the summer, with nine new faces - Karl Darlow and Jamaal Lascelles were immediately loaned back to Nottingham Forest - arriving at St James' Park.

As well as the fact that the proven striker and commanding central defender they wanted remained tantalisingly out of their grasp, the Magpies' concentration on the continental market once again saw them swoop for Daryl Janmaat, Siem de Jong, Remy Cabella, Emmanuel Riviere and Ayoze Perez, as well as Argentinian striker Facundo Ferreyra, leaving former Sunderland midfielder Jack Colback as the only recruit with Premier League experience.

Pardew, whose influence in transfer dealings is limited, had previously spoken about the need to attract men who already had a grounding in English football, but later admitted that home-grown players had come at a particularly high premium this summer.

The fact that the likes of Janmaat, Cabella and Riviere in particular have struggled to get to grips with the Premier League - De Jong's loss to a long-term thigh injury has also proved costly - has not gone unnoticed in the Boardroom, and the blame for that is not being laid at the manager's feet.

In the circumstances, much of the pressure on the former Reading, West Ham, Charlton and Southampton boss is coming largely from disaffected fans, with many of those who made the trip to the Britannia Stadium making their feelings known both during the game and on the final whistle.

However, Ashley, who told a journalist - he later insisted in jest - last week that Pardew would be sacked if the team lost at Stoke, remains in his corner, if only just and will give him more time to turn things around.

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