Ambitious Pardew believes Newcastle can go all the way in the Europa League
Manager targeting a place in the last eight at Anzhi Makhachkala’s expense
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew during training at The Little Benton training ground. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has told his players they can win the Europa League as they attempt to book their place in the quarter-finals tonight.
The Magpies, without a major trophy since 1969, will attempt to secure their passage to the last eight when they face Anzhi Makhachkala at St James’ Park.
No British club has lifted the trophy in its various guises since Liverpool in 2000-01, and with Chelsea and Tottenham alongside Newcastle in the last 16, that is a situation which could well be remedied this season.
While Pardew knows his side faces a tough task simply to find a way past the big-spending men from Dagestan – he has consulted Liverpool counterpart Brendan Rodgers, whose side beat Anzhi 1-0 at Anfield during the group stages – he is convinced that if they do it, they can go all the way.
He said: “We are in it to win it. There’s no point saying to me, ‘Would the quarter-finals be a great achievement for you in your managerial career?’
“It would be something I could put on my CV, but it wouldn’t really mean much to me unless I win the trophy.
“I have been to the FA Cup final twice and lost twice, and I see this competition as a higher standard of competition.
“But I want to win and this club wants to win trophies, so we have a big agenda in front of us.
“There are some very, very good teams in this tournament and we are really looking forward to the game.”
Asked if every game from this point is effectively a cup final, Pardew replied: “The standard will go up again.
“Either of these teams going through out of this particular tie will have a chance of winning it, I have no doubt about that.”
Pardew’s optimism was matched by that of full-back Davide Santon, who won a Champions League winners’ medal with former club Inter Milan as a teenager.
Newcastle will be without winger Hatem Ben Arfa, who was consulting a specialist yesterday over his continuing hamstring problem, while striker Shola Ameobi, who would make a club-record 50th European appearance for an outfield player if involved, will have a late fitness test on the ankle he damaged in Moscow last week.
The Magpies know the 0-0 draw they record at the Luzhniki Stadium means they have to win on Tyneside to progress, while a score draw would send Guus Hiddink’s visitors through.
The visitors’ manager Guus Hiddink is refusing to rule out a return to the English Premier League one day.
The former Chelsea manager will inevitably be linked, along with a series of other big-name managers, with the Stamford Bridge club again in coming months when interim boss Rafael Benitez’s reign is concluded.
Hiddink said: “I enjoyed very much playing here. Overall, the Premier League is what every player likes to do and also the managers and coaches, they like to work in the big leagues, of course.”