Alan Pardew calls for calm as Newcastle push for Champions League

 

Alan Pardew will send his Newcastle players into the battle for Champions League qualification insisting they will be under no pressure.

The Magpies climbed into fourth place in the Barclays Premier League as a result of their 3-0 victory over Stoke on Saturday, which was sandwiched in between Chelsea's 0-0 draw at Arsenal and a 1-0 defeat for Tottenham at QPR.

Unlikely as it has seemed for much of a campaign which has seen the Tyneside club continually defy the odds, Pardew's men will head into their final four games knowing they have a very real chance of finishing in the top four and securing the riches that would bring.

He said: "We will keep our feet on the floor. We are not going to get carried away by it all.

"There's less pressure on us than the others for sure, and we will see if we can win at Wigan."

Saturday's trip to the DW Stadium will be the first of four intensely difficult encounters, with Roberto Martinez's side having already taken care of Manchester United and the Gunners to ease themselves out of the thick of the fight for top-flight survival.

Should Newcastle secure a seventh successive league win there - and that would be an achievement in itself - they would then head for Chelsea on May 2 acutely aware that their destiny could be in their own hands if they could repeat the feat at Stamford Bridge.

By the same token, defeat in both would severely dent their hopes with fixtures against title-chasing Manchester City and Everton, who pulled off a stunning fightback to draw 4-4 at Manchester United yesterday, waiting in the wings.

That result at Old Trafford ensured the Magpies can finish no lower than sixth, something which would have been beyond their wildest dreams at the start of the campaign.

But having come so far, they have an opportunity to make an even bigger impact and are relishing it.

Pardew said: "It's amazing what you can do when you are all pulling in one direction.

"We are calm and we have got momentum, and there's a good feeling at the training ground. That makes us dangerous."

The prospect of European football returning to Tyneside is one which will bring fresh demands on a club which has become a model of good husbandry in recent seasons with owner Mike Ashley's controversial policies - or at least many of them - starting to bear fruit.

Just what that will mean in terms of both revenue and expenditure will not be clear until it is confirmed whether or not it is the Champions League or the Europa League which awaits them, although Pardew insists they are prepared for all eventualities.

He said: "It's not a position I am unfamiliar with because sometimes safety in the Premier League gives you a different budget or promotion to the Premier League, like Reading have had, gives you a different budget.

"You just have to adapt and make sure you have got all the players you think you are going to need in line in case of whatever scenario comes your way."

Meanwhile, Newcastle's fine season has been recognised by the presence of skipper Fabricio Coloccini in the Professional Football Association's Premier League Team of the Year.

The 30-year-old Argentinian, who took over the armband from the departing Kevin Nolan during the summer, has once again played a key role for the club in the centre of a defence which lost Steven Taylor to long-term injury in December.

PA

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