Belfast Telegraph

Mike Ashley silent as Alan Pardew protests for Newcastle players

By Martin Hardy

Alan Pardew was in defiant mood and insisted Newcastle United's recent slump and mounting pressure on his position would not break him.


The Newcastle manager revealed he had not spoken to club owner Mike Ashley since the 6-0 defeat to Liverpool last Saturday increased their vulnerability to a second relegation in five seasons.

But he also took issue with Gary Neville's views that the Newcastle squad is too unbalanced because of the number of French players in it. Questions have similarly been raised about dressing-room unity in light of the crushing defeat against Liverpool and before that against local rivals Sunderland.

"A lot of criticism has come our way, some of it completely unfounded and left-field," he said. "It's insulting if you think because a player is from a foreign country they are not bothered. It is ridiculous. Of course they are bothered. Our professionalism is on the line.

"As far as I am concerned, the group is pulling together to get a result and the fact we have a lot of French players and some language difficulty has been torn up and made to be something else. There is no problem. Some of the wildfire has been way off the mark. There have not been words out of turn. If you don't get feedback from the players you are not going to be a manager at any level.

"I understand you get all sorts of accusations thrown at you. There's not much you can do. You can deny them but it might add fuel to the flames. Sometimes you don't know whether to fight some issues or just let them ride. The bottom line is when you get beaten 6-0, you are going to get criticism."

During a difficult week for the club ahead of a vital game at West Ham tomorrow, the representatives of one national newspaper have been banned by Newcastle for writing about dressing-room disharmony. Pardew said that had nothing to do with him: "I have not been part of anyone or any media source being banned or anything like that. For me, you've got to get on with it. We've had a lot of criticism this week and I've had a lot of criticism this week personally.

"When you have a day like that, you just embrace your family. They try and offer you words of comfort and support which unfortunately don't really work too well. Then you don't sleep well, you get up, you think about it a bit more. If you think that a football manager after the season we've had or a defeat like that [losing 6-0] is not worried about every aspect of his team and his staff, then you're sadly mistaken. I worry about how many sugars Yohan Cabaye has got in his tea, for goodness sake!

"That's the level you want to try and get to, in order to put it right. No one will break my spirit in terms of trying to do that."

Pardew reacted to Neville's criticism, although he did concede there is a language barrier at Newcastle that needs to be addressed. "Has he been a manager?" Pardew said, before adding: "I do think he has a point. I have said many times that we would like to produce our own players but he also made a very valid point about the inflationary prices you get for English-based players here. Maybe some realism needs to come into that market.

"I have to be honest, I would like to have levels of communication greater than they are in terms of 'is our message and the message of my staff getting through 100 per cent'? We hope it is and hopefully at West Ham it will. We've used different forms and will change it if we feel it's necessary.

"Cabaye made a point to me this week. He said that when he arrived he didn't have an interpreter and therefore learned English that bit quicker. We've used an interpreter because we've got so many new guys who don't understand the language.

"It's like trying to get that balance right of actually forcing them to learn the language – but we do need to understand what their problem is. So there's a balance to get right."

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