Newcastle head to the DW Stadium this afternoon knowing that a win would put them sixs point clear of fifth placed Tottenham and would put the pressure on them and Chelsea below us ahead of their games against Blackburn and QPR respectively tomorrow.
However, Pardew makes no bones about what has brought on this unexpected success and points out that we are where we are because we have good players who are putting in good performances. Simple really isn’t it? It also hasn’t gone unnoticed by opposing managers either.
“When I go around the country and meet other managers, they appreciate the job that has been done here by everyone and that we have got a good team,” said Pardew. “But it’s the same for every season; you’ve got to have good players. We are fortunate enough to have very good players who have put in some fantastic performances.”
He continued: “Right now, I look at the group and I’ve still got armoury that I haven’t used yet. I haven’t used Shola Ameobi recently, but then I haven’t needed to use Shola. I’ve also got Ryan Taylor willing to get on and add some bite for us. We still have fantastic players who we can bring in to make an impact. I think it’s incredible what we’ve done. We have been a breath of fresh air.
“You talk about Norwich and Swansea and the impact they’ve had and the way they play, which is great, but you can’t get away from the fact that we have shaken up the league. And we have done it in the right manner because we have played the right way. We have flair that sets us apart from most of the others,” he added.
It is indeed fantastic what has been done, but now, arguably for the first time this season, the magnifying glass is well and truly on us (cheers for that Kimtoon!) and we are being taken seriously as Champions League contenders.
We will have to be wary of any complacency against Wigan and just have to approach the game like we have done all season. If we do that then we have a chance of picking up all three points. That is Pardew’s plan anyway, although he does concede that a point wouldn’t be a bad result. He said:
“You can only enjoy this time in so much you still worry about the next game. Wigan’s form has been great and the fact they have confidence from beating some of the top teams worries me. On the other side, when looking at the boys in training, we do look in good shape.”
“A draw at Wigan would be a fabulous result for us at this stage. Manchester United would have longed for that a bit earlier in the season. But even if we score an equaliser with two minutes to go, I won’t settle for that. We are going to go on and try to win. That is going to make it interesting.”
Whatever happens today we can still be proud of our players. On a personal level, it’s nice to head into the game knowing the European football is guaranteed and that the only question that needs answering is whether it’s going to be Europa League or Champions League. Mind you, I hope the players don’t feel the same way as I do and go for it while the opportunity is there.
The players have the chance to write themselves into Geordie folklore. They have records to break and personal achievements to aim for. Surely that will motivate them in the final four games of the season?
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