Newcastle manager Alan Pardew targeting third place in Premier League

 

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is targeting a third-place Barclays Premier League finish as he attempts to fulfil Mike Ashley's unlikely European dream.

The Magpies will tackle relegation-threatened Wigan at the DW Stadium tomorrow looking for a seventh successive league victory, a run which has seen them climb into fourth and to within three points of Arsenal with a game in hand.

While the odds remain against Pardew's men ending a remarkable campaign as the closest challengers to top two Manchester United and Manchester City - they still have to go to Chelsea and face Roberto Mancini's team on Tyneside - they remain genuine candidates for Champions League qualification.

That was simply not on the agenda at the beginning of the season, and while they could yet finish fourth and miss out should Chelsea win next month's Champions League final, the manager is aiming as high as he possibly can with the full back of owner Ashley.

Pardew said: "Mike is very determined that we push as hard as we can for the Champions League, and we are going to try to do that for him because he has been very supportive to us this year.

"We are just trying to win every game. We know we have got a difficult run - on paper, you could say more difficult than the other contenders - but the teams have still got to beat us and we are in pretty good form.

"But we have got a possibility of finishing third, so that's what we are going to try to do."

The prospect of breaking into the top four and yet not making the Champions League is not one which unduly concerns Pardew, but he admits like his counterparts at Arsenal and Tottenham, he will been keeping one eye on a scenario which leaves him with mixed emotions.

He said: "I am kind of split because obviously you want English teams to do well, and Chelsea winning the Champions League would be fantastic.

"But it would take a place away and that's something we will have to keep an eye on. But they are the rules and we will just get on with it."

A comprehensive 3-0 victory over Stoke last Saturday eased the Magpies three points clear of fifth-placed Spurs and four ahead of Chelsea, and that is a situation Pardew simply could not have envisaged until very recently.

He said: "That's good, I had never thought about that."

Understandably, a once mutinous Toon Army is revelling in the club's return to prominence after a disastrous decline, but impressive subsequent rise under the controversial Ashley's tenure.

The Magpies announced yesterday they are to unveil a new statue to former manager Sir Bobby Robson at the stadium before the end of the season, a move which has been well received by fans who have railed against an apparent fracture between the hierarchy and its customers in recent years.

The repair job accomplished on the field has been founded on sound management off it, and while the decision to re-name St James' Park as the Sports Direct Arena continues to excite passions in the city, peace appears to have broken out, at least for now.

Pardew, of course, was swiftly denounced as just another member of the so-called "Cockney Mafia" when he was handed the reins in the wake of the untimely departure of Chris Hughton, the man who had dragged Newcastle from the depths of despair back into the promised land.

However, it is a measure of the job he has done since that he is now serenaded from the stands.

He said: "It's great because it's nice to have the respect of a crowd base that knows its football.

"The north-east knows its football and it wants it to be played in the right manner, so to have your name sung means you are ticking some boxes on that side.

"That's all I have done, and hopefully that will continue."

Asked if he feels he has yet attained the status of adopted Geordie, Pardew replied with a smile: "Yes. Even the driving wind and the rain doesn't seem to affect me. It just bounces off me these days."

PA

Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor