ALAN Pardew challenged his Newcastle United side to ease the pain of the club’s derby defeat – by winning at Old Trafford.
The club lost a fourth successive game against Sunderland last Sunday.
And the result led to an angry backlash from supporters, who had seen their team knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Tottenham Hotspur four days earlier and beaten 4-1 by Arsenal in the Premier League.
Pardew’s ninth-placed side face Manchester United, unbeaten in seven league games, this afternoon.
It has been a miserable Christmas on the field so far, and Pardew, again under pressure, is targeting a repeat of last season’s visit to Old Trafford, when a goal from Yohan Cabaye gave his team a 1-0 win.
“We’ve lost a game we really wanted to win, maybe we’ve tried to hard to win it, and that’s something we need to look at,” said Pardew.
“But I look at those four games as a basis, and said we’ve got Man Utd now we must try to get a win.
“Against the top teams we’ve done well, we’re ninth in the division.
“We’re not far away from the top. If we get a win – it’s Everton and Burnley at home, and it could put us in a great position.
“So it’s all to play for. I do think this team is stable, it’s a strong middle of the Premier League, and we need to be better than that if we can.
“I think this January is important. It’s important that big players come back to us – and we do some business.”
Newcastle, however, will face a very different Man United side to the one beaten just over a year ago during a difficult period for then-manager David Moyes
The team, which does not have the distraction of European football, is improving under the hugely-experienced Louis van Gaal.
“You can sense a difference between last year and this year, because there’s security at the club,” said Pardew.
“Last year they didn’t seem that security around David, but they’ve definitely got it this year.
“I think the board have made a statement that Van Gaal’s the man, and he’s made it very clear he’s their man too. Put that together and they’ve got a great base for those great players, those great strikers .
“That’s what he’s trying to. He’s had terrible injuries like ourselves.
“But they’ve got a great chance of Champions League, and that’s what I think they’re really pushing for.”