ALAN Pardew has again apologised to Newcastle United fans for the club’s recent losing streak – but he’s unlikely to yield to those who want Hatem Ben Arfa recalled.
Ben Arfa has not featured since recovering from the dead leg he suffered last month.
The forward clashed with Newcastle manager Pardew in the dressing room after last month’s home defeat to Manchester United.
And Ben Arfa could well have already kicked his last ball for the club, having been made to train away from the first-team group.
Supporters, unhappy at events on and off the pitch at St James’s Park, turned on Pardew and club owner Mike Ashley during last weekend’s 3-0 win over Cardiff City. Fans also chanted the name of Ben Arfa, who watched the game from an executive box before joining his team-mates on the pitch after the match for a “lap of appreciation”.
Many supporters want Ben Arfa recalled for Sunday’s season finale against Liverpool at Anfield.
But Pardew – who talked of standing by his managerial “principles” after the Cardiff game – could again leave Ben Arfa out of his squad.
United had lost a club-record six successive Premier League games before the Cardiff match, a run which Pardew acknowledged was unacceptable.
“I’ve got to apologise for the six games that went before (Cardiff),” Pardew told SportMail. “At least, we’ve put it to an end. It’s not cured the situation, but we’ve stopped a difficult period.”
A run of four successive victories in November took the club up to fifth in the Premier League, and hopes were high that the club could return to European competition next season after a season’s absence.
But Newcastle’s campaign steadily unravelled after the turn of the year, though Pardew maintains the results do not tell the whole story.
“We had winning momentum in November,” said Pardew. “But when momentum goes the other way, it can make you look worse than you are, which I think it did. It wasn’t that bad. We proved that.”
Meanwhile, second-placed Liverpool, two points adrift of leaders Manchester City, can still win the Premier League title if Manuel Pellegrini’s side lose at home to West Ham United and they take all three points.