Pardew to face grilling over Newcastle struggles

Alan Pardew will be given the opportunity to drag Newcastle out of the hole into which they have dug themselves, but faces an inquest over this season's failure.

A dejected Steven Taylor walks off the pitch

Calls for the 51-year-old to be relieved of his duties have intensified significantly since Saturday's sickening 6-0 home defeat by Liverpool, the first game at St James' Park since the Magpies were defeated 3-0 there by arch-rivals Sunderland.

Pardew's men now find themselves just five points clear of Wigan with only one relegation spot still to be filled, although the Latics have a game in hand on the sides immediately above them.

However, while owner Mike Ashley is far from happy with the current situation, one which was simply not envisaged back in August, Press Association Sport understands there is no appetite to wield the axe with three games still remaining.

But Pardew will be left in no doubt as to what is required from away trips to West Ham and relegated QPR and a final day clash with Arsenal, with a second demotion from the top flight in five years a distinct possibility if he and his players do not transform their fortunes during the weeks ahead.

Even if they do avoid the drop, difficult questions will have to be answered once the dust settles.

Thousands of fans did not even see the final two goals on Saturday after deciding enough was enough at 4-0 with half an hour still to play, and much of the remaining goodwill towards a man whose appointment in Chris Hughton's place in December 2010 hardly sparked a hero's welcome has evaporated.

Just a few weeks ago, Newcastle were applauded off the pitch after narrowly missing out on a place in the Europa League semi-finals as Benfica just managed to squeeze past them.

But they now face a grim fight for survival, with the long-term plan in which Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias have invested such faith in serious danger of being torn up.

Pardew said: "After the Benfica game, we have now had three games and picked up one point. Everyone was patting us on the back after that even though we lost.

"Now we really need to roll our sleeves up and show the fans we have got the fight in us to get out of this because we are now right in it."

Pardew and his coaching team were rewarded for their efforts last season, when the Magpies finished in fifth place, with new eight-year contracts in September with the club thriving both on and off the pitch.

Newcastle reported an operating profit for the second successive year having reaped the rewards of its innovative transfer policy, which relies heavily upon chief scout Graham Carr's eye for a bargain.

However, as more than one person has argued in recent days, you cannot parade a balance sheet on an open-top bus, and with a Tyneside trophy drought having been extended to 44 years and their Premier League status under genuine threat, the prospect of chaos is looming once again.

Pardew is currently attracting much of the blame and is due his fair share, although he is by no means the only culpable party.

The Board's failure to protect themselves against Demba Ba's eminently predictable departure - they courted FC Twente's Luuk de Jong only to baulk at the asking price, and then could not compete financially with QPR for Loic Remy's signature - left them short of a proven striker, and their belated January spending spree left the new arrivals little time to adapt to English football.

In addition too many players have under-performed, with injuries and weariness as a result of their Europa League campaign valid but over-used excuses.

Pardew was back on the training field this morning desperately trying to rediscover the cohesion and spirit which served his side so well last season, but which was so horribly lacking on Saturday as Liverpool inflicted their heaviest home defeat since 1925.

Victory at either West Ham or QPR would go close to ending their fears, but with Newcastle having won only once away from home in the league all season - at Aston Villa in January - the omens are far from promising.

Pardew said: "Our away form has been very difficult to understand at times because we have had some good performances without picking up points, even with some of the sides which I think have been under-strength in terms of my selection process."

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