Pardew wants Magpies to take next step

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew will target either the Champions League or a trophy to establish the club as a force in English football once again.

Football News: Hatem Ben Arfa, Newcastle

The Magpies will look to book their place in the group stage of the Europa League on Thursday evening in a play-off clash with Greek side Atromitos - the sides drew 1-1 in Athens last week - after finishing fifth in last season's Barclays Premier League.

However, Pardew acknowledges the gap between his resurgent club and the powerhouses of the domestic game is huge, and he knows only a return to Champions League action or an end to their 43-year wait for silverware can start to bridge it.

The 51-year-old said: "Anybody who knows me and knows my management will tell you I am desperate to win something, and I think I have got a team that potentially can do that.

"Will we win the Premier League? Well, that's probably beyond us - the size of squads of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea at the weekend, it's going to make it very, very difficult for us to bridge that gap unless we get into the Champions League.

"I still think that's probably our best route to grow as a football club.

"Having said that, a cup win would certainly raise our fans' morale and the club's morale, and that's something I'm focussing on as much as that Champions League position."

Pardew has spent the summer attempting to address the chasm between his squad, which has been assembled on prudent financial lines, and the Premier League's big-spending aristocrats, although with limited success to date.

The £6.7million acquisition of Ajax midfielder Vurnon Anita apart, the Magpies have managed to sign only players for the future in the shape of Curtis Good, Gael Bigirimana and Romain Amalfitano, with the likes of Andy Carroll, Mathieu Debuchy and Douglas remaining tantalisingly out of his grasp.

Newcastle's interest in Carroll, the man they sold to Liverpool for £35million in January last year, is genuine but their bid to secure his return at a fraction of that price was cheeky to say the least and despite the player's interest in rejoining his home-town club, Pardew admitted it is unlikely to happen before Friday's transfer deadline.

Asked if the pursuit was ongoing, he said: "Not as far as I'm aware, no."

Indeed, although the Magpies remain poised a ready to strike if any of their major targets become available, Pardew is not holding his breath.

He said: "We are just watching the market and seeing if anything pops its head up that's appealing to us.

"Agents keep ringing me and giving me all sorts of names - they must think we don't scout - but we are aware of the ones we are watching and if they decide to move on, then we might trigger ourselves.

"But at the moment, the targets we have are all very much secure at their clubs."

Instead, Pardew is likely to approach Friday night's deadline keeping his fingers crossed that he does not lose key players, with Fabricio Coloccini, Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye having all been touted for possible moves.

He said: "I lost Andy Carroll on the last day of the January window so no, I can never rest easy, but I want to keep the great players we have got.

"We have worked very, very hard to bring them to the football club, not just on the scouting side but selling the club to players.

"Players like Anita, coming from Ajax, a team in the Champions League, to Newcastle, this isn't an easy thing to do.

"We want to keep our best players, and we are trying very hard to make sure we do that."

Tiote will miss out once again with a calf injury against Atromitos while the Ameobi brothers, Shola and Sammy, will also be spectators.



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