Tottenham 'a bit of a mystery' says Newcastle manager Alan Pardew


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The Independent Football

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew admits Tottenham will be something of an unknown quantity when his team face them in tomorrow's late afternoon kick-off, but he is backing the London club to have a successful season under their new manager Andre Villas-Boas.

The Magpies begin their Barclays Premier League campaign by hosting a Spurs side that not only has a different man at the helm from last term, but will also be without some of the players that shone most brightly for them in 2011-12.

Villas-Boas - named as successor to the sacked Harry Redknapp this summer - does not have injured midfielder Scott Parker to call upon, or Emmanuel Adebayor after the striker returned to Manchester City following the end of his loan spell, while playmaker Luka Modric is set to be left out, with his move to Real Madrid looking imminent.

It all means the make-up of the team and way they might play is difficult to predict, although Pardew, while unsure of what exactly to expect tomorrow, is confident Tottenham are destined to do well over the course of the next nine months.

"They are a little bit different to last year because their style is slightly different, and obviously in terms of the personnel," Pardew said.

"It is a bit of a mystery really what the team is going to be, so we are kind of guessing what we think it is and we'll work towards that.

"But I still think they will have a good season - they have great players and a great manager. It is a tough game for us."

Villas-Boas endured a torrid introduction to English football last term as manager at Chelsea, struggling to make a success of his project to renovate an ageing Blues squad and being dismissed in March, having only been appointed to the post the previous summer.

In that respect it appears Spurs have taken a considerable gamble by replacing Redknapp - who had guided them to fourth, fifth and then fourth again in the top-flight in his three full campaigns in charge - with the Portuguese.

The 34-year-old had just overseen a superb multi-trophy season with Porto prior to arriving at Stamford Bridge, though, and Pardew thinks Villas-Boas will come good again at White Hart Lane.

"I think he will do well because he is a great manager," Pardew said.

"I think this time around, he'll prove a lot of people wrong and I hope so as well, because I think he's a really top guy and has great plans there.

"Put those things together, and they should have a real strong season."

Pardew's own team are looking to build upon their impressive effort from last season, in which they exceeded all expectation by finishing in fifth, one spot behind Tottenham.

It has landed them a place in the play-off round of the Europa League and Pardew admits it will be important for Newcastle to get their approach to their fixture schedule right should they progress in the competition.

He is, however, keen to stress that the Premier League - and trying to keep up the heat on the top four - will be the club's priority.

"It is going to very much be about how we progress in the Europa League - we still have to qualify, so we'll get through those two games and then we'll have to look at the matches and how we are going to schedule them," Pardew said.

"Without a doubt, I can tell you now that the Premier League is going to come first for sure, and we want to try to push from where we were last year, push those Champions League teams.

"We were the closest to them and we are going to try to narrow that gap if we can."