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Southampton Pile On Misery For Newcastle And Alan Pardew

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NESCASTLE fans had demanded signs of change; they were given a new low. After a startlingly rotten performance at St Mary’s, Newcastle lie bottom of the Premier League and patience with Alan Pardew seems close to expiring.

The travelling supporters certainly made their wishes clear: there were anti-Pardew banners and chants and, at the final whistle, one fan was so unbalanced by fury that he charged towards the visiting dugout before being restrained by stewards.

Mike Ashley is no populist and the club banned another newspaper this week (taking the total of banned publications to seven) for claiming that Pardew had only two matches to save his job but, even so, it is hard to imagine this being allowed to continue much longer. The statistics are awful – five points from the past 36 available, eight failures to score in their past 10 away matches – and it will take something extraordinary to reverse the trend. “Unless someone tells me otherwise, I’ll continue to prepare the team,” said Pardew after the latest defeat.

The very last thing Pardew wanted was a repeat of his team’s wretched display here in March, when they lost 4-0 and barely seemed bothered. He got the same scoreline and a performance that may well have been worse.

Newcastle were slovenly from the start and almost fell behind within 40 seconds. Fabricio Coloccini left a back-pass short and Tim Krul’s rushed clearance was charged down by Shane Long before bouncing inches wide. The visitors did not sharpen up. Five minutes later, the hosts helped themselves to the opening goal.

Following a routine throw-in move on the left, Ryan Bertrand was allowed to dash in-field and collect a through ball before placing a perfect cross on to the head of the unmarked Graziano Pellè. Given how comfortable the visiting defence had made him feel, it would have been rude for the Italian not to nod into the net.

There was little trace of spirit or cohesion from Newcastle, who were being outfought and outplayed by a team that appears to have retained all of last season’s form and vigour despite significant player turnover and the arrival of a new manager, Ronald Koeman. In the 19th minute Southampton increased their lead, thanks to more Newcastle sloppiness and a dollop of good fortune. After Mike Williamson misdirected a header, Pellè tried to score from long range but his mishit shot turned into a pass to Dusan Tadic, who played the ball back to the Italian to tap in a second goal.

Newcastle began to show signs of life, but Fraser Forster made fine saves to deny Moussa Sissoko and Jack Colback. The visitors then had a bout of possession but no one showed the creativity to profit. Newcastle’s fans had a three-word answer to that problem: “Hatem Ben Arfa,” they chanted in reference to the schemer who has been loaned to Hull after falling out with Pardew.

In the 54th minute the hosts scored a third and again greater appetite seemed key. Steven Davis slipped a ball behind the Newcastle defence and Jack Cork reached it before Williamson and Krul before rolling it into the empty net.

It became increasingly difficult to spot redeeming qualities in the visitors. At one point Rémy Cabella seemed to wonder if his team-mates had given up, as he carried the ball backwards under pressure from two opponents and could not find anyone on his own team in a position to accept a pass. The Frenchman’s exasperation was clear.

A misjudgment by Foster in the 78th minute should have led to a Newcastle goal but Colback and Emmanuel Rivière miscued from close range.

In the last minute Southampton crafted a goal of beauty, swapping 38 passes before Morgan Schneiderlin curled a shot into the top corner.

Pardew accepted the chants of Newcastle fans had foundation. “They are fair because you can’t get beat 4-0 as Newcastle manager,” he said. “We just have to put ourselves on the line really and be brave. We have more quality than we showed today for sure. We need to get that on the pitch.” – The Guardian

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