Pardew throws down Magpies challenge

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has challenged his players to find their best form for a tough double-header against Bordeaux and Manchester United.

Ba scored the only goal of the match...

The Magpies, who won admirers for their fluent football last season, have struggled to replicate that level of performance since the start of the new campaign and have rather ground out results in recent weeks.

However, the arrival of Bordeaux on Tyneside for a Europa League Group D clash and Manchester United's impending visit on Sunday present Pardew's men with the perfect opportunity to finally slip into gear.

The manager said: "The beauty of us this season is that we have been able to get results without playing our best football.

"Ideally, you want both together and the more games you play, hopefully the more rhythm you gain.

"We have been disrupted this year by injury more than anything, and that has hurt us again tomorrow [Friday] with losing Steven Taylor.

"Nevertheless, we hope in the next two games we show our true colours."

Injuries have eaten into Pardew's squad once again, with Taylor limping out of Saturday's 2-2 Premier League draw at Reading with a calf problem which is likely to keep him out of the United game too.

With goalkeeper Tim Krul and Taylor's central defensive partner Fabricio Coloccini also on the casualty list, Danny Simpson's return from a hamstring problem which has seen him miss the last five games could hardly be more timely.

Pardew said: "We have missed him, if I am honest. There are times when the wide player of the opposition has been non-existent when Danny plays.

"He goes under-estimated for his defensive qualities. I will be looking forward to seeing him back, hopefully tomorrow if he gets the nod when I pick the team."

Newcastle opened their involvement in the group stage of the competition with a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Maritimo in Madeira as Bordeaux, who finished fifth in Ligue 1 last season, demolished Belgian side Club Brugge 4-0.

Pardew has so far made wholesale changes for the European games, but is likely to field a team much closer to his Premier League starting line-up this time around.

He said: "We managers tend to steer away from 'stronger' and 'weaker' teams because the squad has obviously got to be used this season.

"No-one analyses their players more than we do in terms of their performance physically, mentally and tactically, and we need to put a team out that can play and beat Bordeaux.

"With all due respect to the teams we have played in this European competition, the team tomorrow [Friday] needs to be stronger.

"We respect Bordeaux and we are looking forward to playing against them - but we expect to win."



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