Newcastle v Manchester City: Alan Pardew campaigning for fixture changes to prevent Europa League impact on league form
Both Newcastle and Tottenham have suffered in recent years with a congested fixture schedule due to the Europa League scheduling
Saturday 11 January 2014
Alan Pardew has set his sights on Europe once again in the hope that the football authorities will give English teams a fighting chance.
The Magpies suffered badly as a result of their involvement in the Europa League last season when Pardew's resources were stretched beyond their bounds, and they found themselves engaged in a bitter fight for Barclays Premier League survival.
He has campaigned ever since for the fixture schedulers to give Premier League sides a better chance of competing on both fronts with Swansea, and to a lesser extent, Tottenham having suffered similarly this time around.
Now Pardew has signalled his intention to lobby both the domestic and European governing bodies to introduce a greater flexibility should Newcastle remain on contention.
Asked if Europe is still a target given last season's difficulties, Pardew said: "Yes. I think there might be a situation where maybe the agenda will change in terms of the fixtures.
"It's something I will be pushing for if we get close, the Premier League to try to help us, let us play on a Monday night or on a Wednesday and try to approach UEFA about that.
"The stats back up the suggestion that it's too early for teams to play that quickly."
Whether or not Pardew gets his wish remains to be seen, but in the meantime, his eighth-placed side will resume their pursuit of another top-five finish when free-scoring Manchester City arrive at St James' Park on Sunday.
Three successive defeats, two of them in the league, have taken some of the gloss off a run of nine games which yielded just a single defeat.
However, that sequence of fixtures did include a home victory over Chelsea and away wins at both Tottenham and Manchester United, and they will approach City's visit to Tyneside with some relish.
Pardew said: "For us, the most important part is to attack every game.
"We have the same points total as we did when we finished fifth after the same amount of games, so we have got to take that belief into the second half of the season and try to improve on it.
"If we can, then we have a chance of Europe, and that must be a realistic goal for us in the position we are in at the moment."
City will arrive confident of repeating their opening weekend victory over the Magpies at the Etihad Stadium having smashed six past hapless West Ham in midweek, and with manager Manuel Pellegrini boasting an embarrassment of riches within his squad.
The challenge of man-managing so many top international players is one which can present its own problems, but Pardew insists that is not necessarily an issue.
He said: "Not when you are winning. If you are winning - and obviously, they are going to win more than they lose - it's much easier to have a big group because you can just say as a manager, 'We won, await your chance'.
"It's not so easy when you are losing games and you have got a big squad. It's harder for teams like us, Everton, Villa, Spurs, that mid-group.
"It's tougher for those teams because you can't win every week, and that's what you are trying to do.
"If you can win every week and you can keep bringing in quality, then the group is okay."
Pardew could have goalkeeper Tim Krul and midfielder Yohan Cabaye back from injury, but will once again be without Fabricio Coloccini and Mathieu Debuchy, while full-back Davide Santon is a doubt with a thigh problem.
Frenchman Massadio Haidara, 21, could continue at left-back and while his manager admits he could face the sternest of tests, he has full confidence in him.
Pardew said: "He's got a fantastic left foot and fantastic pace. He lacks experience and this is possibly not the greatest game to come into - obviously, Manchester City is a real test for the back four.
"But I still have great confidence that he can pull it off."
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