A defiant Alan Pardew has insisted Newcastle can turn around their faltering Premier League campaign. Newcastle have conceded 11 goals in their last two games and have won just twice in the league in their last 11. There is also the endless Demba Ba saga to be resolved and Hatem Ben Arfa's prolonged absence through a hamstring injury is causing concern. He is unlikely to play this month.
However, Pardew, with Newcastle just above the relegation zone, has attempted to blow away any sense of growing gloom as his side prepare to host Everton tomorrow night.
"Everton could be a platform for us, a difficult platform but no more difficult than Man United last year, when we won," he said. "I certainly feel that within the team we can beat them. It's not like I am in a position where I think the team has massively malfunctioned. I think, other than the last 20 minutes, we gave a good account of ourselves at Arsenal." Newcastle lost 7-3 at the Emirates on Saturday.
"Take November and December out of the year and it was really a great year for the football club," Pardew continued. "Unfortunately you can't, so next year we have got to put 12 good months together.
"I do feel it has been a decent year. I look at this group of players and know that if they were all fit, we would be in such a great position. I have been in situations like this before and suddenly you look at the team and you think, 'Wow, that is our best team playing out there and we are losing games,' then you really do have a problem, but we have not got to that. It would be nice to get our best team and lose, then I really would be moaning!
"There is some real light at the end of the tunnel. Ironically, after that heavy defeat [because] we've had some good news in terms of players coming back and some positive news in terms of negotiations and hopefully that will all come to fruition."
Steven Taylor and Yohan Cabaye are expected to be back for Newcastle's upcoming Premier League game against Norwich and Mike Williamson is available for tonight's with Everton.
"The most important thing is to be realistic," Pardew added. "We played Arsenal, then United away from home and got no points. I don't think that is too surprising.
"The last 20 minutes at Arsenal was really not us. Our stats and everything I have seen suggests to me that we were tired, not just physically but tired mentally. We paid the ultimate penalty for that. We have to be on guard on Wednesday because games are coming fast. It is another top team."
Referee M Atkinson (W Yorkshire).
TV Sky Sports 1 (Highlights 11.05pm, BBC1).
Odds Newcastle 2-1 Draw 12-5 Everton 11-8.