Alan Pardew: The next three games will define Newcastle's season

Manager is under pressure to field weak team in League Cup game against Manchester City

Alan Pardew has vowed to come through a gruelling three-game run against Manchester City, Chelsea and Spurs and keep his job.

The Newcastle manager is once more under pressure following a second successive league defeat to fierce rivals Sunderland at the weekend. That result left Newcastle three points above the Premier League relegation zone before Chelsea's visit to St James' Park on Saturday.

Pardew's position was undermined hugely by the arrival of Joe Kinnear as the club's director of football in the summer and there remains uncertainty. Newcastle's form this season has been indifferent and they have won just one of their last four league games. Neither the club's owner, Mike Ashley, nor Kinnear was at the Stadium of Light on Sunday to witness the 2-1 defeat, and they are not expected to be at the Capital One Cup tie with City at St James'.

However, Ashley could be at White Hart Lane on Sunday week and Pardew knows he can ill afford to have lost every one of a difficult set of games.

"We are coming into some games which are really what our season is all about," he said. "We have lost two games to teams in and around us and we have to try to make up those two against the top teams.

"I'm not worried about a slump because I think it is a long Premier League season and you have to be logical. There are periods in the season when you have difficult games and I think we have just had a difficult batch.

"Liverpool at home was really tough when I thought we were heroic and then Sunderland away, regardless of where they were, with a new manager coming in it was a tough game. We haven't come away with what we wanted there, but that does not mean we cannot get a victory against the top teams, who on paper should beat us."

The Newcastle manager somehow has to emerge from another chaotic period at the club, and even the City match presents problems. Newcastle's fixture with Chelsea is a lunchtime kick-off on Saturday and the importance of cup competitions to Newcastle's owner is best highlighted by the fact the club have not progressed past the fourth round of either of the domestic competitions since Ashley took control.

In a meeting with supporters' groups recently, a club employee admitted the Premier League would be given priority. That means Pardew, who could do with a cup run to alleviate mounting pressure on his position, will be expected to play a weakened team. At least four players who started against Sunderland are likely to be rested.

With City smarting after their last-minute defeat to Chelsea on Sunday, the Capital One Cup could be Newcastle's best chance of a result, given the City manager, Manuel Pellegrini, is expected to rest some of his first-choice players. And despite Ashley's preference for the league, Pardew acknowledged a decent Cup showing could help transform their season.

"Personally, the cup is a priority. If you have ever had a taste in the cup it gives you a real buzz and momentum and I want to get that within the group as quickly as we can," he said.

"I think we have a good side but we are into a really tough part of the season in terms of fixtures. City are coming off a defeat. I don't know how many times they get beat twice on the trot. It is not often so we will have to do something extraordinary there. Chelsea are coming off a last-gasp win and [Jose] Mourinho has a spring in his step. That is worrying and after that we face Tottenham.

"I'm not going to say which I want to win more [the City or Chelsea game]. I can't look at it like a fan. From our point of view, I think both are very important but we have to put in performances, especially after Sunderland, which are really strong, get a result, maybe two results.

"We had an emotional and physical game on Sunday and I think regardless of whether this was a cup or Premier League game, I would be resting a couple for this game purely because of that."

To add to another difficult period, the battle lines have now been drawn between the club and the local newspapers, the Evening Chronicle, the Newcastle Journal and the Sunday Sun. All three were banned because of their coverage of a 500-strong protest march by a group called Time4Change. The Evening Chronicle's front page warned, "Banned but not gagged", and the Newcastle Journal ran a withering opinion piece on Ashley's tenure.

Pardew admitted that the club had sent a letter, but there is no suggestion they will back down from the all- encompassing ban.

"We've drafted a letter we think is correct and that's it," he said. "They have to respond to that."

Down in the dumps: Pardew's run

Newcastle have been on a terrible run of form since finishing fifth in the Premier League in the 2011-12 season, flirting with relegation last season before ending in 16th place. Alan Pardew's side have won just seven of their last 22 matches.

Newcastle form since August 2012 (all competitions): P 65 W 21 D 17 L 27 Win% 32

Pardew has a poor record in domestic cup competitions at Newcastle, failing to make it past the fourth round in five attempts.

Pardew's cup record:

2010-11 FA Cup: Third round

2011-12 League Cup: Fourth round; FA Cup: Fourth round

2012-13 League Cup: Third round; FA Cup: Third round

News
news
Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose' in memoir of a grief-stricken daughter who became obsessed with training a goshawk
Sport
footballLive blog: Follow the action from the Capital One Cup semi-final
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy