Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was at a loss to explain his side’s “lacklustre” performance as they were turned over 4-0 by Southampton on Saturday.
After a slew of missed chances, Jay Rodriguez scored just before the break at St Mary’s Stadium and netted a late fourth in between Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana’s second-half efforts, with the Magpies failing to offer a single meaningful attack.
“The performance was lacklustre from us,” a downbeat Pardew told reporters after the game. “The [difference in] energy levels between the teams was marked.
“If you don’t threaten the opposition, they’re going to keep coming. That’s what Southampton did. It was a great game for them. They played very well and made it really difficult for us but that’s a performance that we need to make sure never happens ever again – certainly not for the next six games.
“I can’t explain [the lack of energy]. After what was a tough game in midweek [losing 3-0 to Everton] we gave the players plenty of rest, thinking that was the best option, but this week, for sure, we’re going to have to work on our process of how we’re going to score goals and win games. We really had no chance today.”
Saturday’s match was Pardew’s first back in the stadium after his ban for headbutting Hull City’s David Meyler but he was still forced to watch from the stands, though he insists that an inability to fully communicate with his squad affected the result.
“I don’t think that’s a major issue because we have John Carver on the sidelines but it was our lack of energy – wherever you were sitting in the stadium – that looked the problem,” he argued. “If you’re going to play a team like Southampton, you can’t give them the space we did, keep turning the ball over and not offer a threat.
“The criticisms that we’ll get this week, we’ll have to accept and make sure this week – not starting against Manchester United, starting on Monday – that we train very well and put a performance in that is relevant to this club.
“When we turn to the fans, what can we say? They left at half past five this morning and they’ve come to watch a performance that isn’t ‘us’.
“I can’t think of too many occasions of a performance where we haven’t threatened the opposition because, even in some of our defeats this season, we’ve certainly threatened.”
Hatem Ben Arfa was one of two half-time changes made by Pardew after an anonymous return to first-team action but the manager refused to single the Frenchman out for criticism.
“I’m not really going to talk about individual players,” he added. “I think, collectively, we have to accept responsibility. It wasn’t good enough."