Belfast Telegraph

Pardew demands focus

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has ordered his players to have no mercy as he attempts to end his former club West Ham's recovery.

The Magpies eased themselves six points clear of the Barclays Premier League drop zone with Sunday's 1-0 win at Wigan, and head into Wednesday night's clash with the Hammers at St James' Park knowing a repeat would edge them closer to the finishing line in their fight for top-flight survival.

But the Magpies have often struggled against the so-called lesser lights this season, and Pardew knows reversing that trend would help their cause, saying: "It would be really nice to do that because they are very, very important games. It's all well and good beating the top sides on your showboat kind of day, but these are the games which determine your season."

He added: "It's a big game for us and I am pretty sure that the guys will be in a good frame of mind to play it.

"We should get confidence from Sunday because it was a really good performance."

Victory would hand Newcastle their first league double of the campaign and end the Hammers' four-game run without defeat.

It would also give Pardew a win over the club he managed for more than three years before he was shown the door in December 2006 after guiding them back into the Premier League.

He insists he has no bitterness towards the London club, but admits he sometimes wonders how things might have turned out had he not lost striker Dean Aston to what proved to be a career-ending ankle injury suffered while training with England a few months earlier.

Pardew said: "I have only got really good memories, really good. The overriding disappointment for me at West Ham was the injury to Dean Ashton. I had England's number nine fit, ready and raring to play and lost him at the start of that season.

"Unfortunately, that impacted on his career massively. It just goes to show you that these highly-paid players are very, very vulnerable and it was a great regret that Dean suffered that injury. It cost us and cost him."


From Belfast Telegraph