Pardew prepared to face flak
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is happy to take the blame for the club's failings this season if it keeps the pressure off his players.
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A run of six consecutive Barclays Premier League defeats has left the Magpies marooned in mid-table at the end of a season which initially promised much more.
Such is the anger of supporters over what they feel is the latest in a series of wasted opportunities that they are planning to stage a protest during Saturday's final home game of the campaign against Cardiff.
Much of the ire which has in the past been directed at owner Mike Ashley and ill-fated former director of football Joe Kinnear is now being aimed at the manager, and he has no problem with that.
He said: "It's a job that comes with fantastic highs and also deep lows, and you have to cope with those equally well.
"I have tried to be balanced with the players this week and the pressure is very much on me.
"Sometimes it angles towards someone. Sometimes it's the owner, sometimes it's the players - this time, it's me and in a way, that's probably better for the team on this occasion.
"We all know the importance of the game for us as a club, and the club comes first. Forget about me and everything else, that's very important.
"I think that's been lost a little bit this week. This is about Newcastle and the pride that we have. Our pride has been dented.
"We have won 14 games, which at the start of the season we might have accepted. But from where we were at Christmas, we can't accept it and I agree with that."
Newcastle went much of the way towards eradicating last season's struggle against relegation when they surged into the top six during the first half of the campaign, with star midfielder Yohan Cabaye to the fore.
However, his not unexpected £19million sale to Paris St Germain in January pulled the rug from under their feet, with Ashley deciding not to replace him immediately.
That, on top of two summers of perceived under-investment, left fans in mutinous mood and results since have simply exacerbated the situation to the point where spectators are being asked to stage a walk-out during the Cardiff game.
The Newcastle United Supporters Trust is urging supporters to consider leaving the stadium with 69 minutes played to symbolise their unrest with a club which lifted its last major trophy in 1969.
While acknowledging that the Ashley regime, which has been in place for seven years, cannot be held responsible for the entire drought, the trust is calling for change.
A spokesman said: "Sweeping changes need to be made or else Newcastle United is in grave danger of relegation in the near future, and what should be a great club brought to its knees."
For his part, Pardew, who has been greeted by banners calling for his departure at the last two away games, is desperate to win the fans over once again.
He said: "We have had a very difficult run, probably the toughest run I have had as a manager - certainly, results-wise it is.
"The most important thing is to try to get a stadium on Saturday that gives us a chance, and we need to make sure that we put in a performance in that first 20, 25 minutes that gets the stadium on our side and gives us a platform to try to win the game.
"Everybody at Newcastle from within and without who supports us wants us to win and we want to get that win for them."
Pardew will have striker Luuk De Jong back from an ankle injury, but midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa seems unlikely to be included once again after training away from the main group.