Alan Pardew says Champions League qualification for Newcastle would be as big as a trophy

 

Alan Pardew believes qualifying for the Champions League would be as big for Newcastle as ending their 43-year wait for a trophy.

The Magpies embark upon their latest attempt to end a lengthy silverware drought when they head for Manchester United in the Capital Cup third round tonight.

They have not taken a major trophy back to Tyneside since their 1969 European Fairs Cup triumph.

However, they came within five points of Champions League qualification last year and Pardew insists the kudos and riches that would bring would be every bit as important as winning a cup.

He said: "Obviously, we want to win something - you shouldn't be in the game unless you want to win something.

"Winning for us would be actually qualifying for the Champions League - that would be winning for us, 100%. It would be like winning a trophy.

"But our fans would like to see a nice big cup, I am sure, and hopefully we can achieve that somewhere down the line.

"We are getting to the stage where there's a mentality and a quality in the group that could win a competition such as this.

"We have to just try to win every game that we enter and see where our goals are come Christmas-time when we can really start focusing on what we want to achieve this season."

Pardew himself was still a schoolboy when Bob Moncur hoisted the Fairs Cup above his head, and several generations of Newcastle fans since have waited in vain for a chance to celebrate a similar achievement.

Eighteen-year-old midfielder Gael Bigirimana has only been at the club for a few months, but he already knows how much the fans yearn for tangible success.

He said: "I know a little bit of the story of the club and from what I can remember, they haven't won any cups for quite a long time.

"For any club, that's what the fans want, the fans want a trophy - the Capital One Cup, the FA Cup, the Europa League, whatever, the Premier League, they just want a cup just to get that feeling of winning something.

"It would just lift up the place. It's a hard challenge, but we are here, that's our job, we have got to provide that."

The Magpies head for Old Trafford having drawn there in the Barclays Premier League last season, albeit with the help of a generous penalty award.

However, there was nothing fortunate about their 3-0 home win over Sir Alex Ferguson's men on Tyneside in January.

Pardew, who is certain to make changes again, said: "I think he's still, knowing Alex, smarting from that and he will be looking to put that right on Wednesday, so we will need to be on our toes.

"I watched the game against Liverpool and I don't think United were at their best and that's dangerous, to play United when they haven't played well and won at a place like Liverpool.

"We are on our guard and we will go and hope to play well ourselves."

PA

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