Newcastle Club Focus – Magpies forced to settle for Europa League berth

Newcastle closed their season on a disappointing note with a 3-1 defeat against Everton. Needing a win to have any chance of making the Champions League places it turned out to be a deserved defeat for the Magpies. They can at least take solace that Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur both won their matches so even a rare win at Goodison Park would have been irrelevant. Ending the season in fifth place is a fine achievement for Alan Pardew’s side who have been one of the great over-achievers this league campaign. There will be some disappointment that the club’s season ended with three defeats in their last four games but it takes little gloss from a fine team effort.

For the first time in many a year European football will be returning to Tyneside. While the Europa League does not carry the same gravitas as the Champions League it will still be welcomed heartily by the fans. Alan Pardew now faces the dilemma of how he approaches competing both in domestic football and on the continent. A number of Premier League clubs have chosen to play to weakened sides in the Europa League but that is likely to be frowned upon in Newcastle. There is little doubt the squad will need to strengthened for next season with the Magpies possessing one of the smallest rosters in the league at the moment. But European competition should provide a greater pull when trying to attract new players to come to the north east.

There was little that went right for Newcastle against Everton and there could be few complaints over the final score line. For much of this campaign the Magpies have been resolute at the back and clinical going forward but they struggled to match these standards on Sunday. Everton, on a fine run of form, had much the better of the game and were able to create a number of good scoring opportunities. This week the Northern Echo reported that Pardew has underlined his target to strengthen in defence this summer and that appears to be the right way of thinking on this performance. There were also angry scenes after the final whistle with midfielders Yohan Cabaye and Tim Cahill involved in a confrontation which saw the latter sent off.

An indication of just what Pardew has managed to achieve this season came when he was named the Premier League Manager of the Season. The former Reading and West Ham manager has seen his stock rise dramatically in the past 18 months following his shock arrival after Chris Hughton’s departure. He may not have been the most popular appointment but now the fans chant his name at every game. Pardew’s success has been based on being well organised and getting his players to perform every game and at times play above themselves. His challenge next season may be to deal with the increased expectations around the club.

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