Pardew: We're a lot stronger now

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is hoping a difficult season could yet end in Europa League glory.

Last Updated: 20/02/13 at 19:39 Post Comment

Alan Pardew: Feels his side have as good a chance as anyone

Alan Pardew: Feels his side have as good a chance as anyone

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is hoping a difficult season could yet end in glory.

The Magpies head into Thursday night's Europa League second-leg clash with Metalist Kharkiv in Ukraine bidding for a place in the last 16, but still fighting to keep their heads above water in the Barclays Premier League.

Pardew's men face a vital league fixture against Southampton at St James' Park on Sunday, but he is confident the troubles of the first half of the campaign can be put firmly behind them to mount a genuine challenge on the European front.

The 51-year-old said: "There's a possibility that this could still be a great season.

"If I look at my best team, I would feel confident putting my best team up against any team left in this competition.

"I've not really had that opportunity. We are a lot stronger now. Therefore if we get through this tie, we have as good a chance as anyone else."

Newcastle's lowly Premier League position is a source of mystery to Metalist boss Myron Markevich, and Pardew was also questioned about the disparity between the current season and the last one, at the end of which they sat in fifth place in the table.

It is a question he has answered many times in recent months, but he is more convinced than ever that a corner has been turned.

He said: "We have been disrupted this year with a lot of our key players missing.

"Probably this is as strong as I have been with players that I have available. I feel we are a lot stronger than the league position suggests.

"We had a lot of things go our way last year to finish in fifth place, but it was an excellent momentum that we had gained.

"We became a side that was resilient - we haven't got that resilience this year.

"But there is a renewed belief in the squad from the introduction of the new players, particularly [Moussa] Sissoko, [Yoan] Gouffran and Mapou [Yanga-Mbiwa], who will play tomorrow.

"Therefore, our season will be determined by two things: firstly, progression in this competition and secondly, our Premier League position, which I think we can improve dramatically - hopefully."

Having drawn the first leg at St James' Park 0-0, Pardew concedes that Metalist could be regarded as slight favourites, but the fact a score draw at will send the Magpies into the draw is a cause for optimism.

He said: "We have come here to qualify. I think it is 50-50.

"The fact they did not score has given us a slight advantage but, of course, they are at home.

"Our game-plan is to score goals tomorrow."

Pardew landed in Ukraine this afternoon with the strongest possible squad available to him with only full-back Davide Santon, who is nursing a sore ankle, and midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa left behind along with the ineligible Mathieu Debuchy and Gouffran.

Frenchman Ben Arfa has been out of action for 10 weeks with a hamstring injury and, although he returned to training earlier this week after undergoing treatment at the French National Technical Centre in Clairefontaine, Pardew had no intention of risking him in Kharkiv.

He said: "It was a no-brainer really. He has only been with us for two days from Clairefontaine, who have put him in a fantastic physical condition for us.

"We are very pleased with their contribution and we thank them for that.

"It underlines the relationship we have in France, to have that faith to let Hatem do his recovery there, as we would if Yohan Cabaye or any of our senior players preferred that route. That's worked out well.

"He looks short of match-fitness, but we hope to get him up to speed perhaps for the next round, if we make it.

"Sunday might me be too early for him too, but certainly Swansea, I would be looking for him to have some sort of cameo role from the bench if he progresses well."


Click here for completely free £10 bet with Sky Bet & £5 free every week


Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

A

rturo Vidal, James Rodriguez, Angel Di Maria...........who cares we have Mark Oxley.......Ah tis good to be Hibs fan :)

frakessmee
Hull keeper agrees Hibs loan

I

t's just a ride. Bill Hicks is sorely missed, what a prophet and still relevant twenty years after his death. I'm glad though he didn't get to see George Bush Jnr as President.

thesza888
Wilshere: Is He Smoking Enough?

W

hile not comparing the ability of Wilshire to Dr Socrates of Brazil, didn't he do about forty a day?

nedsmar
Wilshere sorry for smoking

Footer 365

Manchester United: Louis van Gaal admits he will not buy players just for the sake of it

New Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal insists he will not buy players just for the sake of it.

Transfer news: West Ham are set to sign Arsenal defender Carl Jenkinson on loan

Sky Sports understands West Ham are poised to win the race to sign Arsenal defender Carl Jenkinson on loan.

Transfer news: Juventus determined to keep hold of Manchester United target Arturo Vidal

Juventus managing director Giuseppe Marotta has reiterated the club's desire to keep hold of Arturo Vidal.

Mail Box

No Wonder Wenger Doesn't Buy British

That's if reports that Calum Chambers cost Arsenal £16m are to be believed. The English premium shows no signs of disappearing. Plus, worrying about poor Southampton...

Reasons To Believe That Van Gaal Will Be The Best

Some supporters sound oh so confident on Louis Van Gaal's excellence. Plus thoughts on shirt sales, best signings, football sevens and a good deal more besides...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property