x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Alan Pardew's Newcastle to aim for 'astonishing' finish

The Newcastle United manager says qualifying for the Champions League this season would eclipse even Sir Bobby Robson's feat of a decade ago.

Newcastle United's Alan Pardew says if his crew can qualify for Champions League play it would be a greater achievement than when the club last qualified for Champions League play a decade ago under Sir Bobby Robson.
Newcastle United's Alan Pardew says if his crew can qualify for Champions League play it would be a greater achievement than when the club last qualified for Champions League play a decade ago under Sir Bobby Robson.

 

Alan Pardew, the Newcastle United manager, believes qualifying for the Champions League this season would eclipse even Sir Bobby Robson's feat of a decade ago.

Robson dragged the Magpies from 11th place at the end of the 2000/01 campaign into fourth place 12 months later and, subsequently into the second group stage of the competition.

That proved to be the last time that Newcastle played in the Champions League group stages.

However, with five games remaining this time around, Pardew's team are level on points with fourth-placed Tottenham.

"With all due respect to Sir Bobby Robson, he had some fantastic players and players who were Premier League icons," Pardew said. "We have got a lot of new players who are making a little niche for themselves.

"It's a different kind of scenario. I am not underestimating that achievement but if we get in there, it would be astonishing."

Newcastle host Stoke City on Saturday, and Tony Pulis, the visitors' manager, says he has no regrets about not signing Demba Ba, who had been set to join Stoke from the German side Hoffenheim in January 2011, but failed his medical.

Ba subsequently secured a transfer to West Ham later that month and while he could not prevent the Hammers from being relegated, the Senegal forward made quite an impression, scoring seven goals in 12 Premier League appearances.

A move to Newcastle followed in the summer and Ba has continued to demonstrate his potency by netting 16 times - including a hat-trick in a 3-1 win at Stoke in October - for his new side.

"We have a medical team here who made a decision and they are fantastic," Pulis said. "They don't need any backing up. They thought there was a problem there - fine, we'll get on with it."

Of Ba and Papiss Cisse, who has 10 goals in nine games for Newcastle, Pulis said: "Both of them have done brilliantly, and good luck to them.

"I don't wish them any harm at all - except for when we play against them."

 

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