Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew conceded his injury-hit squad were no match for Everton in their 2-1 home loss on Saturday.
United midfielders Joey Barton and Stephen Ireland failed to take the pitch at St James’ Park, while Spanish defender Jose Enrique was forced off with injury in the shadows of half-time.
Without players of such quality Newcastle were unable to defend their early lead, which they received when Leon Best headed Kevin Nolan’s cross past Toffees custodian Tim Howard in the 23rd minute.
Leon Osman (31) and Phil Jagielka (36) put the Magpies to the sword with two quick goals, and Newcastle were unable to turn around the deficit in the second half.
While conceding his side were missing some spark without Barton, Ireland and Enrique, Pardew still commended his players for leaving their all on the pitch.
“It was a rousing game and we were disappointed with our first-half display, but the effort and commitment in the second half I think warranted something,” Pardew said.
“We had too much quality off the pitch today. Enrique, Barton, Ireland all missing and sometimes the little quality gets what you need.”
“It wasn’t ideal losing Enrique and we had to use the whole squad. From where we have been it is disappointing as it was a great opportunity.”
“But fair play to Everton, they gave us some real problems with (Mikel) Arteta and the front two.”
“You can expect the lack of quality sometimes, but you can’t accept the lack of commitment and by God we showed a hell of an effort to get it back. But it wasn’t meant to be.”
“Perhaps we should have done better – I don’t think Howard (Webb, referee) did us any favours but I can’t complain. The effort was there but I just think we lacked that quality.”
“If we get our top players back we have a good side, no Barton or Ireland who will be available for the next one.”