Alan Pardew says Crystal Palace are now in relegation fight
By Mark Crellin
Last Updated: 29/02/16 3:13pm
Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew thinks his team are now facing a fight against relegation.
The Eagles enjoyed an excellent start to the season and spent most of the first half of the campaign in the top half of the table, with fans dreaming of a European campaign next term.
However, although Palace have progressed to the last eight of the FA Cup, their Premier League form has nosedived.
Palace are without a league win since a 2-1 victory at Stoke on December 19 and extended that winless run to 10 matches when they lost 3-2 at West Brom on Saturday.
The Eagles are still eight points clear of the drop zone but face a crucial week, with a trip to second-bottom Sunderland on Tuesday followed by the visit of Liverpool on Sunday.
And Pardew says he now thinks Palace have been drawn into the relegation mix.
Asked on Monday if he thought his side were in a relegation fight, he said: "Yes, of course we are. We keep losing.
"There is no talk of Europe at this club. We are focused now on what Crystal Palace need to deliver in this next 10 games.
"We have got a fantastic opportunity in the FA Cup [a quarter-final at Reading on March 11], which is great, and that is running alongside.
"But the league form, unfortunately, hasn't been good enough, for me, for the fans, for the players, and we need to put it right.
"That doesn't mean to say we can't have our strongest-ever finish in the Premier League. We can do that, we have the capability, but we need to kick into gear."
Despite Palace's poor run, Pardew does not feel his position is under threat, pointing out that results have generally been good since he took charge in January last year.
I don't fear for my job at this football club. The pressure I am under is the normal pressure of a Premier League manager.
"I don't fear for my job at this football club," he said. "The pressure I am under is the normal pressure of a Premier League manager.
"Crystal Palace fans know this team. Watching this team in the 14 months since I've been here, this is the first time we have had any down time.
"But we are not going to put our head in the sand. We are going to have to deliver a performance and that's what we'll try to do on Tuesday night."
Forward Yannick Bolasie has been absent with a hip injury as the Eagles have slipped down the table but could make his first start since December on Tuesday.
But Pardew warned: "It's easy to say we have missed players and start leaning on the fact Yannick is back and everything will be okay, but it doesn't work like that.
"We all need to pull our fingers out. Me, the staff and the players. We know it's the biggest game of the season for Sunderland, and in some ways it's the biggest game of the season for us."