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Soccer-Newcastle's Pardew targets top 10 amid fan unrest

Reuters

By Michael Hann

LONDON, April 28 (Reuters) - Under-fire Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew vowed to arrest their slide and finish in the top 10 after they suffered a 3-0 loss at Arsenal on Monday, extending their dismal run to six straight league defeats.

Ninth-placed Newcastle looked limp in defence and toothless in attack as they struggled to live with Arsenal's attacking flair and Arsene Wenger's side raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Laurent Koscielny and Mesut Ozil.

France striker Olivier Giroud headed a third after the break and unhappy with their dreary run of form, the Newcastle fans voiced their frustrations with chants of "It's six (defeats) in a row, Alan Pardew, it's six in a row".

"I think they are frustrated," Pardew told reporters. "I think we had 2,000 here tonight who made this long, long trip.

"All I can do as a manager is make sure I do this job to the best of my ability. We have been top 10 all year, this recent run is not something I'm hiding from. We should have performed better in this run and we have got to finish in the top 10."

Newcastle are three points ahead of 11th-placed Crystal Palace with two Premier League games left, the last of which is at table-toppers Liverpool.

Pardew, who has been at Newcastle since 2010 and signed an eight-year contract extension in 2012, believes fans' criticism will impact on the team's confidence but hopes they will bounce back with a home win over struggling Cardiff City on Saturday.

"We have got the best fans in the world and I hope on Saturday we give them something they deserve because they don't deserve the recent run we have offered up to them," the 52-year-old continued.

"It (booing) puts pressure on the team as well as myself. I have to do my best to protect the team and protect the performance.

"I do think if we win on Saturday it will guarantee us a top 10 finish and I think our focus is very much to make sure we get that win quickly."

"We could have got really harmed tonight at 2-0 at halftime, but I think we have come out on a football basis with our dignity still there and we need to take that into Saturday."

Pardew was back on in the Newcastle dugout after serving a seven-match touchline ban for headbutting Hull City midfielder David Meyler and he was pleased to be commanding his shot-shy troops from the sidelines once again.

"There are a couple of times when you need to cajole a player when he has made a mistake or done something where you can reinforce some belief in them," he said. (Editing by Mark Meadows; mark.meadows@thomsonreuters.com; +44 20 7542 7933; Reuters Messaging:; mark.meadows.reuters.com@reuters.net; To sign up for our Global Sports Forum chatroom, click on https://forms.thomsonreuters.com/global_sports_forum)

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