By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Alan Pardew insists Newcastle United must pick up maximum Europa League points against Maritimo on Thursday night, in order to correct their recent 'unacceptable' home form.
Defeats at the hands of West Ham and Swansea in the space of six days condemned the Magpies to back-to-back home losses for the first time under Pardew's stewardship.
Their success of last season was built on strong Tyneside foundations, and that is something the boss is determined to get back to - starting on Thursday in their Group D fixture, where a victory would secure a knockout place in the competition.
"We have lost two home games and that is not acceptable for us," said Pardew.
"We need to make sure we win. Doing that would give us qualification, so it's a big night for us.
"We entered this competition to try and win it so qualification is important. But we didn't really have a philosophy to get it over and done with - we just had to qualify."
Pardew admitted trying to juggle the demands of the Premier League and Europa League has been tough, but the boss wouldn't have it any other way as he pits his managerial wits against some of the best on the continent.
"Southampton would probably have a day off today and then two nice, training days leading into our game (on Sunday)," he explained.
"But for us, it's a working day - we have got the game. So we will have one recovery game and then into Southampton.
"It makes it difficult for the squad and for us as staff to plan and get everything right. But that's the competition - we knew what it was about and we have entered it with eyes open to do the best we can."
Tickets for Thursday's Europa League tie are still available. For more information, click here