Pardew bemoans costly errors as Newcastle slump to heavy Fulham defeat
Alan Pardew admitted a ‘lack of mental concentration’ cost his side as Newcastle United slumped to a 5-2 defeat by Fulham and missed the opportunity to go fifth in the Barclays Premier League table.
After taking the lead through a stunning Danny Guthrie strike just before half-time, Newcastle conceded four goals in 16 minutes.
Penalties from Danny Murphy and Bobby Zamora and a Clint Dempsey hat-trick marked a remarkable comeback from Fulham, although Hatem Ben Arfa did score a late consolation goal for the visitors.
Penalty! Fulham's Andy Johnson is fouled by Tim Krul inside the box
Newcastle boss Pardew said: ‘Defending has been our strength all season and for 20 minutes we did not do it very well.
‘In the first half, I don't think Fulham even had a shot, maybe one wayward shot. It was just a lack of mental concentration in the second half that cost us. We have to make sure it does not happen again.’
Guthrie branded his side’s performance ‘unacceptable’ and said the players let themselves down.
The midfielder, 24, said: ‘We were completely in control and 1-0 up. We’ve let ourselves down second half.
Spot on: Danny Murphy scores a penalty as Fulham win 5-2
‘You should never put yourself in that position. There was a 20-minute period when it was just unacceptable and they were getting in behind us too easily. It was really disappointing.’
Newcastle could have gone above Arsenal into fifth on Saturday evening, just two points below fourth-placed Chelsea, who were held at Norwich City.
But Pardew said he is not targeting Champions League qualification this year, insisting reaching the Europa League would still reflect a very successful season for Newcastle.
False dawn: Danny Guthrie had put Newcastle ahead with a fine strike
He said: ‘I don’t think we are really in that (the fight for a Champions League spot).
‘I think we are realistic enough to know that if we qualify for the Europa League it will have been a fantastic season for us; an absolutely unbelievable season for us.
‘The players have played to their maximum all season except for 20 minutes at Fulham. I can't moan as a manager about this team they have been brilliant.’