Alan Pardew has hit back at criticism that Newcastle suffered a humiliating FA Cup exit at the hands of Brighton on Saturday because of their warm weather training camp in Tenerife, saying there is ‘no correlation’ between the two.
Pictures emerged of a boisterous night out for injured defender Steven Taylor’s birthday during the trip to Spain following Newcastle’s 1-0 defeat against Brighton in the fourth round of the competition.
The night out was said to have happened 72 hours before Saturday's game against the Championship outfit, with pictures showing Taylor, injured club captain Fabricio Coloccini and striker Leon Best amongst others partying at a bar on the Spanish island.
However, Pardew boss refused to blame outside factors for the defeat at the AMEX Stadium, and said his side must now focus on their upcoming Premier League encounter against Blackburn.
When asked by reporters if the trip to Spain had anything to do with the defeat against Brighton, Pardew responded: "I don’t think there is any correlation with that at all.
"We knew the Brighton game was important with the core of our team coming back. But unfortunately it’s just got away from us. It’s a bit of a cliche but we are in a good position in the league and we need to strengthen that now by getting a result at Blackburn.’
While Africa Cup of Nations trio Demba Ba, Papiss Demba Cisse and Cheik Tiote were absent alongside skipper Coloccini, Pardew fielded a strong side on the south coast.
Mike Williamson's own goal handed the Seagulls a place in the fifth round of the competition at the Magpies’ expense though, with a tie at Liverpool the home side’s reward for victory.
The absence of Ba in particular was noticeable as stand-in forward Leon Best spurned a series of chances to force at least a replay, and the former West Ham boss believed his side’s downfall was caused by a lack of cutting edge in attack.
"We were searching for a little bit of quality to win the game,” he commented.
"They defended well to be fair and we were always liable to a breakaway. They got some massive fortune for the goal and it was their day.
"We had a good grip on the game and we felt comfortable. But we weren't threatening the goal enough to find a way through."
The loss capped a poor week for Newcastle, who succumbed to a 5-2 defeat having taken the lead against Fulham in their last league outing.