The dramatic change in the tone of Newcastle's season was emphasised by Alan Pardew on the eve of their return to the Europa League. At the start of the month Newcastle crashed out of the FA Cup at Brighton with a team Pardew claimed was not strong enough to represent the club. Investment in the transfer window has altered attitudes and desire.
"I think it will probably be the strongest team I've ever sent out for a knockout game while I've been Newcastle manager," said Pardew. "I've been a bit unfortunate in previous cup competitions in terms of injuries, but I've got no complaints this time. The team will be the strongest it can be.
"In some ways, it feels like a fresh start in the competition. We're obviously going up a level in terms of the opposition – no disrespect to Bordeaux, who won our group, but I think Metalist Kharkiv are a bit stronger than them.
"This is a huge test for us, but the results from the last few weeks have helped in terms of setting us up for it. Although we know we're still in a situation where we have to win Premier League games, it's given us a little bit of breathing space to attack this competition.
"Even if we were to get injuries now, we could cover them, whereas before we didn't have that luxury. We can enter the rest of this competition with a strong hand. It is tougher now because Champion League teams have fallen into [the competition] and with Ukraine and Russian teams getting world stars they have upped their games and it is a name that is going to stick around, it is a good platform.
"There has been a large influx of South American players who give the team a real characteristic of technique, which is what we have to come up against. They are very good at keeping the ball and taking our tempo on the game, on the break they are fast and you have to be very clever how you attack, but we are an old and legendary name in this competition and we want to keep it that way and renew our reputation."
Pardew will, however, be without Mathieu Debuchy, who is not registered, and Yoan Gouffran, who is recovering from a shin injury.
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