Pardew: Risk-taking key for Toon
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has told his players not to be afraid of taking risks as they attempt to drag themselves out of a depressing slump.
The injury-hit Magpies head for Stoke on Wednesday night desperate to avoid a fourth successive Premier League defeat and becalmed by a run which has severely dented their hopes of matching last season's top-five finish.
The loss of central defender Steven Taylor and midfielder Yohan Cabaye until February has significantly extended an already lengthy casualty list and darkened the clouds hanging over St James' Park.
However, Pardew insists neither he nor his players can afford to doubt their own ability if they are to stage a fightback ahead of a difficult fixture list as 2012 draws to a close, with Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal all waiting in the wings.
He said: "No, of course, and you can't doubt your risk-taking, because actually, that's what it affects as a player.
"When they say people are struggling with confidence, I always think it's are struggling with risk-taking because you don't take risks, you play safe and sometimes when you play safe, you don't get any reward.
"There's a balance between really working hard and risk-taking, and that's what we need to get right at Stoke.
"We are certainly not panicking, but we need to be conscious of where we are in the division and that we have got tough games around the corner.
"We are going to need to kick into gear - and kick into gear with some key players missing, by the way.
"That means we have all got to work that little bit harder."
Newcastle have not lost four consecutive top-flight games since the 2008-09 season, at the end of which they were relegated, and the current run of form is starkly out of character with that which they have enjoyed throughout Pardew's reign to date.
The 51-year-old has enjoyed an extended honeymoon period with fans who largely did not initially welcome his appointment almost two years ago, and he admits the current situation is his toughest yet in the job.
He said: "Yes, for sure. I don't think you need luck to win games - you like to think that the ability of your players is good enough.
"But you don't need a run of bad luck, and that's what we have had in terms of injuries.
"Forget about the Europa League, we have suffered injuries regardless of that, but those games on top of those injuries have really compounded the issue.
"But we can't moan about it. We have got what we have got and we are going to have to get on with it.
"It's time to roll our sleeves up and show our fans how much it means to us to wear the jersey and represent Newcastle."
Sunday's 2-0 defeat at Southampton was arguably one of the poorest performances during the manager's tenure, and there were even murmurings over his continued presence among the more trigger-happy users of some social media platforms after the game.
Pardew said: "The new media of Twitter and Facebook are accelerating the process of pressure on managers and players.
"We have got it here - we have lost three games and it's starting to build here very, very quickly, and I think it stems from that source.
"Unfortunately, little campaigns are run that grow into something that perhaps [new Chelsea manager Rafael] Benitez fell into at the weekend.
"It's very, very difficult, but we have to deal with it. That's our job and the most important thing is to focus on our teams, focus on what we can do to improve it.
"Now we have got some improving here to do, we will make no mistake about that, not just myself and my coaching team, but my players too.
"We are conscious that we need to get a couple of results really quickly."