ALAN Pardew believes qualifying for the Champions League would be "a bridge too far" for Newcastle United - but he has still promised to do everything he can to ensure they remain in contention.
The Magpies travel to Arsenal in the Premier League tonight with Pardew promising to go all out for victory.
Anything less, and he thinks his side can effectively be discounted from the race for a top-four place.
And while the Newcastle manager thinks that may not be such a bad thing, he will chase the game if necessary.
“It affects my mindset in terms of do I want to win the game, but we’ve got to be in the game,” he said. “At Tottenham (where Newcastle conceded three goals in the first 20 minutes), we didn’t have a way back. We were dead and buried at half-time.
“We have to be in the game with ten or 15 minutes to go and, if we are, I won’t settle for a draw, for sure.”
Given the resources of the teams around them, the Magpies are punching well above their weight this season. But even from the strong position they find themselves in, Pardew thinks it would be fanciful for supporters to expect the top-four finish that will take them into the Champions League (or at least its qualifying rounds).
“Really, it’s a bridge too far for us with what I’ve got on the training pitch, but if we were to be fortunate enough to win – or good enough to win because one or the other is going to decide it – we will go to Norwich and see how we get on,” he added.
The Gunners, who have scored 15 goals in their last three home games, go into this evening’s televised game with a five-point gap over sixth-placed Newcastle.
“It’s a mini-season for us now,”