ALAN Pardew pleaded with Newcastle United’s fans to stick by his beleaguered team after a third successive Premier League defeat.
Southampton ran out comfortable 2-0 winners yesterday thanks to goals from Adam Lallana and Gaston Ramirez.
And the scoreline could have been a lot, lot worse at the St Mary’s Stadium.
Pardew pulled no punches after an entirely forgettable afternoon on the South Coast for his out-of-sorts side, which has won just one of its last eight domestic games.
But Newcastle’s 2,019-strong travelling support didn’t turn on the players during or after the match.
And Pardew knows their backing will be crucial at the Britannia Stadium, when his depleted United side face Stoke City.
“We’re going to have to ride this period out – there’s no doubt about that,” Pardew said.
“I think the fans are going to be important to us – we don’t want to lose them. We’re not in that place – we wouldn’t be able to cope with us.”
Despite the abject performance, some supporters still applauded the players off the pitch at a sodden St Mary’s Stadium.
“It’s a long journey,” added Pardew. “We saw a couple of buses on the way down.
“It’s a bloody long way. It’s a bloody long way to see a performance where we got beat with a bit to spare.”
While the criticism that has come his team’s way from the media in recent weeks has been harsh, the verdict from fans who have watched the club’s recent domestic and European matches has been harsher still.
And Pardew insisted he – and his squad – will have to be man enough to take the flak, which will only end when his side starts winning games.
“As the manager and players, we’re going to have to accept the criticism,” he said.