ONSIDE: Newcastle United should settle for fourth bottom now

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MANY a Newcastle United fan appears to be angry at manager Alan Pardew’s assertion that he would be happy to finish fourth bottom.

It is as though a club the size of the Magpies should not demean themselves by thinking so low.

Well I have some unwelcome news for those misguided supporters.

The table could well look far worse come 5.50pm or so on May 19.

Newcastle United must not go into their final game needing a point or more at home to Arsenal.

If they do then they will inevitably crack and end up back in the Championship.

I already have visions of Aston Villa, who sent the Magpies down in 2009, and old friend Dave Whelan’s Wigan playing out a tame draw at Newcastle’s expense on the same day to ensure their joint survival.

So that means four points from the Newcastle’s next three games to all but ensure safety.

Saturday’s 1-1 draw at West Brom was at least an improvement on the dismal derby surrender six days earlier.

But most observers – and perhaps the players themselves – feared the worst after Pardew’s side had failed to turn their first-half supremacy into a bigger lead.

In the end a draw was a fair result and the side at least displayed some guts to withstand West Brom’s predictable late barrage.

Pardew said as much in his after-match press conference and should not be criticised just yet for dreaming of 17th.

Most of Newcastle’s failings this term date back to last summer’s failure to strengthen their squad.

That issue was largely addressed in the January window and if it needs revisiting then let’s not book a ticket until 6pm on May 19.

One final point to Pardew before his Liverpool pre-match press conference later this week.

Don’t get carried away by Sunderland when you start talking about your own team owing the fans a decent home performance.

The derby is over, the best team won and little digs about the Wearsiders’ pitiful European pedigree are even out of place in a school playground.

– GAVIN LEDWITH

@HPoolMail