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The 51-year-old has defended his side's French players, who the Manchester United legend had accused of forming cliques after the Magpies' 6-0 defeat to Liverpool on Saturday

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew has hit back at criticism aimed at the club’s French players by former Manchester United defender Gary Neville.

The United legend was highly critical of the Magpies after their 6-0 defeat to Liverpool at St James’ Park, suggesting that cliques had been formed by the club's French-speaking contingent.

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But Pardew has responded defiantly, suggesting that some criticism has been "completely unfair", especially the "complete rubbish" spoken about Newcastle's Gallic recruits.

"Has he been a manager?" Pardew said to reporters when asked about Neville’s criticism. "We have had a lot of criticism this week but that is something you have got to accept when you lose 6-0 at home.

"There was a bit of blood-letting on Monday but I've seen the reaction I wanted from the players. Some of the criticism of the French players is completely unfair.

"I'm particularly aggrieved about this word 'rift' and talk that the French players are not accepted or are not accepting us.

"It's complete rubbish. They're quite a young group. They've been quite hurt by it."

Newcastle are five points clear of the relegation zone in 17th and travel to Upton Park on Saturday to face West Ham.

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