Alan Pardew concerned at Newcastle form
Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew has admitted he is worried by his side's form after seeing them comfortably beaten 2-0 by Southampton on Sunday.
It was their third straight defeat and they have now gone four league games without victory - statistics Newcastle's manager says is a concern.
"Of course I'm worried," Pardew told BBC Sport.
"We are Newcastle United, we have been resoundingly beaten and I have to try to lift the players."
Pardew was given a standing ovation by the Saints fans on his first return to St Mary's since his sacking on 30 August, 2010.
But after that it was downhill for the Magpies boss who saw his side comprehensively outplayed by a resurgent Southampton.
"It was all good up until it kicked off," he added.
Saints could have had more than two, having hit the post twice and the crossbar once.
Magpies keeper Tim Krul also pulled off a string of saves that helped keep the score down, while Jay Rodriguez was unlucky to see his goal chalked off for offside.
The defeat leaves Newcastle in 14th position and just four points above the relegation zone and Pardew admitted they just could not cope with Southampton's tenacity.
"The intensity and energy that Southampton had on the pitch was a problem for us," said Pardew. "We were second best.
"They got amongst us and did a good job, their tails are up and they've gained confidence from that victory last week [against QPR]."
Pardew, whose side finished fifth last season, admitted injuries were a mitigating factor in his side's slump in form but also pointed to a busy fixture schedule because of their involvement in the Europa League.
"We've got 11 senior players out and it looks like Steven Taylor could be another one out for a while with a hamstring injury," he said.
"The difference between last season and this is playing in the Europa League.
"I feel sorry for the young players like Shane Ferguson who are trying to find their feet in this league, they are trying to find some confidence and it us hard for them.
"Everything seems to be going against us and we have to be tough.
"But we are not creating the chances that we did last season. The team is not creating.
"We are struggling at the minute. Southampton deserved to win and we have got nothing to argue about."
Pardew's side now travel to Stoke in the week and the Magpies boss has called on the Newcastle fans to help lift them from their struggles.
"We are going to need the fans, they are the greatest set of fans, the team needs a lift and we need them to lift us," he said.