Alan Looking For Reaction

Alan Pardew has warned his players that they will need to improve if they are to get the right result from the visit of Crewe midweek.

He admits that the defeat at Sunderland saw his side below par despite careful preparations, and he says:

"We were disappointed in the performance more than the result; getting beaten at the Stadium of Light in itself is no disgrace but the performance was just disappointing, and we were looking at each other in the dressing room at half time and full time.

"We just couldn't get going and the loss of Mattie was a blow on the back of Conners, we didn't get any rhythm, and the referee didn't help with it being stop/start.

"We have had a couple of disappointments recently such as the sub-standard performance against Walsall but they have been drawn games.

"Certainly we want the middle and end of the week to be better than the way it started with a result against Crewe and then a positive result against Millwall - then we will see how the league table looks then.

"This Crewe side will have a couple of players with Premiership potential in the team because they always bring them on.

"It will be a harder task than Wimbledon and we will have to make sure we play well.

"They are a good footballing side and it will be a game of strategy, to some extent."

As for the tackle on Matthew Etherington by Stephen Wright which has put Mattie out of the Crewe game, Alan, who has now seen the video, adds:

"I am of the same opinion as I was on Saturday; he did take a bit of the ball but it was the high part of it and obviously then he followed through to take a large part of Mattie.

"I thought it was reckless at best and we suffered the consequences of that."

Are defenders starting to single him out because of his growing reputation?

"You hear things said on the line that he is a target; you like to think that people play in the right spirit and that those sort of things don't happen - but certainly players will get aggressive with him and he accepts that.

"Ronaldo will find at Manchester United that if you have got flair people will try and knock that out of you."

As for David Connolly, who missed the Sunderland game with a thigh strain, Alan says:

"He has got a chance but we will have to wait and see.

"We miss his adventure in and around the box but we have got players in the squad that should compensate for that."