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Boss defends Sol Campbell after heavy defeat

Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew accepted that the changes to personnel and tactics backfired in the spectacular 4-0 collapse at Stoke City.

Pardew, who replaced popular boss Chris Hughton in December, handed a start to veteran defender Sol Campbell and fielded three at the back.

However, the Magpies capitulated in a disastrous start to the second half, shipping two goals in just under five minutes, with Jermaine Pennant profiting from an awry Campbell clearance before Danny Higginbotham fired through the wall.

Pardew told reporters: "I'll have to accept the fact that we lost the game 4-0. We changed the shape of the team and it didn't work.

"I'll accept that. I didn't think Sol Campbell played poorly. In my opinion he gave a good account of himself."

The visitors could have gone into the break level pegging with the Potters after flooding forward, and were the equal of their opponents.

"In the first half we were unlucky to come in one-down," Pardew said. "We controlled much of the tempo of the game and deserved a goal just before half-time, [but] it didn't come.

"I was generally quite happy with first half. Second half, the first five minutes cost us the game. We came out and didn't start."

The result leaves Newcastle in 11th place but just four points above the drop zone, and Pardew is aware that there is still plenty to do to ensure his side's top-flight status, but believes his side have the ability and belief to create a gap between them and the drop zone.

He continued: "We're very conscious that we've never been that far away from that situation. It puts some pressure on us in terms of the next home game.

"We lose Chiek [Tiote] to a booking which means he's got a suspension. It's been one of those days you'd like to forget as a manager. We've got enough in the dressing room and enough quality to win next game and hopefully give ourselves some breathing space."

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