Alan Pardew insisted last night that he was not criticising Mike Ashley when he claimed that the Newcastle owner had, like himself, underachieved this season. The manager also confirmed there would be talks about what has gone wrong this season once the campaign finishes.
On Friday, Pardew had argued that both he and Ashley had underachieved as Newcastle attempt to avoid relegation to the Championship for the second time in four years.
However, he then attempted to clarify his position. "I'm not criticising Mike or Derek [Llambias, the club's chief executive]," said Pardew. "That would be ridiculous. I'm just saying we need to have a conversation. We know that. It won't be a comfortable conversation, will it? It's not like last year when we finished fifth and said, 'What a good job we have all done'. This season has been a trickier one.
"I did not expect this season to go as it has. It's been very difficult. I feel like I've worked twice as hard as last year. You have situations where you need to get the balance right between the information you give players. Maybe we need to look at how the team has performed but we haven't got the whole picture yet. That's where I sit today, really in a state of flux. We've got two games left. We don't know what division we're in. But we feel we're confident enough to get over the line."
Newcastle are three points above third-bottom Wigan Athletic in the Premier League with two games left, starting at Queens Park Rangers today, to save themselves.
"I have not doubted myself this season," he added. "I don't think as a manager you can ever do that."