NEWCASTLE take centre stage tonight when they welcome Wigan for the televised Premier League game – and the pressure is on Alan Pardew and his team.

The Magpies were magnificent last season, when they finished fifth, but have found it harder this term, much to the frustration of their fans.

They are some of the most loyal and passionate supporters going, but with Newcastle being a one-club city, it can all become a bit intense, especially when things aren’t going so well.

The problem for Pardew, who I really rate as a manager, is that his side probably over-achieved last season, and that has raised the expectations considerably.

It’s worth recalling that only three seasons ago, Newcastle were in the Championship, and at the start of that campaign, there were suggestions they would do well to avoid dropping into League I.

The opposite happened, of course, with Chris Hughton leading the way back to the promised land before being sacked in the December.

Owner Mike Ashley came in for some stick for his choice of Pardew as replacement, but he certainly did the business last season, and recently signed an eight-year deal.

Now he needs to live up to that billing, starting with a win against Wigan who are on the same mark of 14 points from as many games and who are never easy opponents.

That said, I think Pardew will get the points tonight.