Pardew keen to avoid home strife
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has challenged his players to avoid an unwanted hat-trick as he desperately attempts to inject new life into their season.
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The Magpies slipped to a second successive home defeat and into the bottom half of the Barclays Premier League on Saturday when Swansea left St James' Park with a deserved 2-1 victory.
Coupled with last Sunday's 1-0 loss to West Ham, the latest setback left the natives in restless mood as hopes of matching last season's top-five finish were dealt a further blow.
But Pardew's men will run out in front of their home fans once again on Thursday to face Portuguese outfit Maritimo in a game which could clinch their progression to the knockout stage of the Europa League, and the 51-year-old is hoping that will be the springboard they need.
He said: "We certainly don't want to lose three home games on the trot, that would be a blow.
"It's a big game for us because if we can win it, it guarantees qualification, and that's what we need to do, get one hurdle out of the way and then look for our first win away from home in the Premier League in the next game.
"They are the two immediate hurdles in front of us."
While the men from Madeira may not provide the sternest test Newcastle will face this season, victory is a must to restore confidence.
They will return to Premier League action at Southampton next Sunday and then head to Stoke, where a repeat of their 3-1 victory last season currently looks unlikely.
In mitigation, they faced Swansea without four regular starters with central defender Fabricio Coloccini suspended, midfielders Yohan Cabaye and Jonas Gutierrez injured and Papiss Cisse - much to the annoyance of both player and manager - unavailable after the Senegal Football Federation invoked FIFA's five-day rule following his no-show for their midweek friendly against Niger.
The 27-year-old revealed he would be considering his position as Senegal captain, while the "dismayed and angry" Magpies are taking legal advice.
Pardew said: "The decision over Papiss was baffling, and that was a blow to us because in the first 60 minutes we would have expected Papiss to come up with a goal there."
In the event, the lack of depth in Newcastle's squad was exposed as a team including Davide Santon, Vurnon Anita - the only senior player signed during the summer - Shane Ferguson and Sammy Ameobi, and later teenage substitute Gael Bigirimana, succumbed in disappointing style.
The visitors took the lead after 58 minutes when winger Pablo Hernandez was again allowed time and space on the left to cross for Michu to head firmly past Tim Krul for his eighth goal of the season.
The Magpies threw everything they had at Swansea as time ran down, but the game was over with three minutes remaining when substitute Danny Graham forced Krul to parry his effort and Jonathan de Guzman smashed the rebound home.
Demba Ba pulled a goal back in injury time after substitute Sylvain Marveaux's shot had come back off the crossbar, but the final whistle brought boos from the Toon Army.
Pardew said: "It's the first down time I have had since I have been here. Two home games on the spin we have lost.
"But we need our best players available and we will have to work hard to get them back on the pitch."
Swansea counterpart Michael Laudrup's emotions were in stark contrast as he assessed yet another impressive display by Spaniard Michu, who lined up behind lone striker Itay Shechter.
He said: "He (Michu) is not a centre-forward. If you put him inside the box he's not like Ba or others, but when he arrives he is so difficult to mark, nearly impossible, and we have seen a lot of his goals coming from that.
"It's a very difficult position to play because when we have the ball you want him to be the second striker, and when they have the ball the third midfielder.
"It's a difficult position and you can find different kinds of players who play that position. But obviously, we are delighted with what he is giving us.
"He has only been here for a few months. Normally, you need some time to adapt. He is a quick learner."