Newcastle Club Focus - Pardew covets Europe
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew gave his players the weekend off ahead of another crucial run of fixtures. With the Premier League season entering the final third of fixtures there is still plenty that the Magpies have got left to play for.
A place in the top four of the league is not out of the question although even a place in the top six would be a fantastic achievement. Two of the teams that Newcastle are competing against showed their weaknesses at the weekend with both Arsenal and Chelsea suffering disappointing results. With two home games in succession coming up there is an opportunity to increase the pressure on the established order.
Pardew believes that Europe is a realistic target and wants one last push in the final 13 games of the season. “We'll be ready to work again next week - we've got 13 cup finals between now and the end of the season," he told The Chronicle newspaper. "We'll regroup on Monday ahead of two very, very important fixtures. We've got Wolves, and then we've got the derby. The mood in the camp's very much one of putting the Spurs game behind us. I've every confidence we'll do that."
Although the Europa League is a much maligned competition Newcastle fans would welcome a return to continental action. Under the days of Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson the club made regular forays into Europe and are one of an elite group of English clubs to have featured in the Champions League. The last time the Magpies played in European competition was back in the 2006-07 season under then manager Glenn Roeder. The only downside to playing in Europe would be to increase the squad size to compensate for the increased number of fixtures.
Already Pardew and his scouting team will be planning for next season and a new set of challenges. One likely departure is Fraser Foster with the young goalkeeper keen on a permanent move north of the border. The 23 year old has again established himself as the first choice keeper at Celtic and in a recent interview claimed that his agent was in talks with the Bhoys’ board. With Tim Krul having established himself as the number one keeper on Tyneside he is likely to be allowed to move away permanently. Veteran Steve Harper is also likely to follow him out of the door this summer with his chances extremely limited this season. One of the number one priorities will be to sign some defensive cover with Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Ajax’s Jan Vertongen already linked with moves.
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