Newcastle cannot afford defeat to West Ham on Saturday

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Former Newcastle United manager Sam Allardyce brings his West Ham United side to St James' park on Saturday for round two of the Barclays Premier League.

The Hammers arrive on Tyneside having made a solid start to their league campaign with a comfortable 2-0 home victory over new boys Cardiff City.

Allardyce will be hoping to continue that good start with a victory over his former employers, who began the season with a disastrous 4-0 loss to Manchester City on Monday night.

However, if Alan Pardew is to keep Newcastle fans onside then he cannot allow that to happen again under any circumstances. 

Pressure was already mounting on the manager and the board even before Monday's calamitous defeat, with discontent over the appointment of Joe Kinnear as director of football and the distinct lack of signings that the appointment has brought with it.

A four-goal drubbing and an embarrassing red card for violent conduct were not on the list of remedies for the situation.

Throw in the impending departure of fan favourite Yohan Cabaye and you have 52,000 incredibly unimpressed Geordies who will be filling out St James' Park on Saturday afternoon.

If the club are to avoid anarchy, they simply must deliver a good result. It will not be an easy task. West Ham are a very decent side that are well-drilled by Allardyce and boast a rock-solid defence that Newcastle could not breach in either of the two fixtures the clubs shared last year.

But it is an inescapable fact that Newcastle are the better team, both on paper and in stature, and at home this is the sort of game they simply have to win.

The loss at Manchester City was worryingly reminiscent of last season and that has already led many to conclude that the Magpies will have a similar season of struggle.

Perhaps that is a little premature as, after all, they were playing against Manchester City, who can make the best of teams look very ordinary at times.

But there can be no such excuses against West Ham and indeed Fulham the week after. If they lose, then all it shows is that Newcastle have not progressed at all since last year and could well be caught up in a relegation dogfight. 

That would be unacceptable to Newcastle fans. The club had acknowledged the need for signings to help ensure a repeat of last season would not happen, yet with just over a week to go in the transfer window not one permanent signing has been made.

However, the lack of signings is in regard to the season as a whole. The matter at hand is Saturday's game and, new signings or not, Newcastle have the quality to beat West Ham.

Pardew and the board are lucky in that sense but should they suffer defeat, not many will look much further than the club's incompetence in the transfer market and those cracks in the floodgates may finally burst. 

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