Football - Pardew pragmatic after derby defeat

Alan Pardew has warned his Newcastle players they face a difficult end to the season after passing up the chance to secure their top-flight status with a derby victory.

PA Sport

A win over struggling arch-rivals Sunderland at St James' Park would have effectively ended the Magpies' fears of being dragged into the fight against relegation from the Barclays Premier League and nudged the Black Cats deeper into the mire.

However, a disastrous 90 minutes saw the visitors cruise to a 3-0 victory, in the process inflicting Newcastle's heaviest derby defeat in 34 years, to set alarm bells ringing once again.

The league table shows Newcastle sitting in 13th place, five points above the drop zone; Sunderland are two points and as many places behind them, but it is they who will attack the next round of fixtures with genuine relish after the first win of new manager Paolo Di Canio's reign.

Pardew admitted: "It's going to be a difficult week for us and a difficult end of season for us now because that's a real morale blow to us with the fans.

"We have got to win them back and the only way we are going to win them back is proper performances between now and the end.

"At least we have got a free week this week to work on the team, work on our shape and make sure we are solid going into the final five games."

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