Alan Pardew is back in a familiar predicament but his message to the 4,500 Newcastle fans travelling to Tottenham for tonight’s Capital One Cup quarter-final with Tottenham was empathic: “It is about grasping the opportunity.”
This is by some distance the furthest Pardew has taken Newcastle in a domestic cup competition. Indeed in the seven and a half years Mike Ashley has been owner of Newcastle, there had not previously been a cup run beyond the fourth round of either the FA Cup or the League Cup.
Under Pardew they reached the quarter-final of the Europa League in 2013, lost to Benfica with a strong team and were then beaten at home in the Premier League by Sunderland. The next league fixture for Newcastle after Spurs is Sunderland, at home.
The Newcastle board made public a badly kept secret in May when, in a meeting with a Newcastle fans forum, they admitted that chasing cups could risk relegation.
The board outlined research into Premier League clubs in the last five years, with Swansea the only club outside the traditional six to win a domestic cup and not be relegated. “In the same season Wigan and Birmingham were both relegated,” it pointed out.
The board was asked if a more concerted effort to win a cup could be made if the team were higher up the league, and responded: “The club’s priority is the Premier League.”
Yet the Capital One Cup this season has offered an escape from a Premier League season that has flirted with capitulation. Of Newcastle’s first nine games of the season, only two were won, at Gillingham and Crystal Palace, and the season-turning week saw Newcastle record a stunning victory against champions Manchester City in the same competition.
Now Pardew must again satisfy the needs of many, and nothing better epitomises his often problematic position. To that end there was a rare rallying cry yesterday. “We are going to try and take this opportunity,” he said. “It’s about grasping it. I have played in quarter-finals before and there is just extra meaning to it. You just sense it. You are eight teams away.
“I can feel the squad bubbling under in terms of the excitement. There is a spring in the step. When you are young, you’re really looking forward to it because it’s going to be exciting and that’s the sense you get.
“You know, a quarter-final of the League Cup doesn’t come around too often for this club, and for Spurs by the way. So both clubs know it’s an important game.
“I love the cup competitions. I’ve not really had too much joy here. I still have one eye on the FA Cup third round when we have a two-day break between the league and cup. I have always said that devalues the cup and we need to look at the scheduling, but I’m looking forward to Wednesday.
“I just hope whatever happens, we put a performance on for 4,000-plus fans. There are not many clubs who would go to Arsenal, come all the way back up, have a rest and then go back down to London again. I appreciate that and their support is important.”
Pochettino ready to rotate once again
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino will continue to rotate players for tonight’s League Cup quarter-final at home to Newcastle.
“Maybe one player is tired and not fresh,” he said as the club approach their 27th game of a busy season. “If another is in better condition, why not? I am a manager and need to make a decision. We have played a lot of games.”
Emmanuel Adebayor, who returned from compassionate leave on Monday, is Spurs’ only absentee.Reuse content