GABRIEL Obertan wants to be given a licence to attack this weekend – as he insists Newcastle should be looking to sign off their St James’ Park campaign with a flourish by winning five out of five.
United’s gut-wrenching defeat at Arsenal has increased the need for a win over Norwich City on Sunday – the first of a run of home games that will be critical to their hopes of clinching a Europa League spot.
With Alan Pardew calling for a “pick-me-up” in the bid for a top-five finish, Newcastle are expected to take a very different tactical approach this weekend from the defensive stance they adopted against the buoyant Gunners.
Pardew opted to go with one up front for the trip to the Emirates, and asked winger Obertan to play a more withdrawn role to help Danny Simpson contain England under-21 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Obertan’s response was unselfish, posting a disciplined performance even if he didn’t make quite as much of an attacking impact as he had hoped for.
Now the former France under-21 star – who is set to get the nod for Sunday with Ryan Taylor struggling – is hoping to make the most of a more offensive deployment against the Canaries.
“We want to prove a point at home. We want five wins from five home games,” he told The Journal.
“We have to attack Norwich and I hope to be able to play my part. We will just take every game as it comes and hopefully we'll have Europe at the end of the season. I am really delighted to get a chance again. The manager has showed faith in me and I want to repay him.
“On Monday it was a different position for me. I felt I did OK – I tried to do what the manager had asked me to do.
“I stayed back in midfield more and was asked to cut off the play to their wingers as much as possible. I did the best I could, unfortunately we lost, but that is football. It is obviously difficult to play a different role and come back after time out, but it is exciting too. Just to be playing again is very exciting after a long time out but yes, it takes time to get back into it.
“You do not have the same rhythm as when you play every week so maybe I just need one or two games to get my sharpness back. I was delighted to be on the pitch, but disappointed with the way the game ended.”
Obertan is adamant that despite the frustration of emerging from Monday empty-handed, the team still “believe” in their European dream. Liverpool’s win in the Merseyside derby means they are only two points shy of Newcastle in sixth – but with the Reds engaged in FA Cup combat this weekend, that gap would be extended with a Magpies win on Sunday.
“We played quite well on Monday but it is a sign of how well we have done that we are disappointed,” Obertan said.
“The gaffer was not angry with us, he said he had nothing bad to say about us or the game afterwards. There were some positives from this game. We still believe about Europe. We will try and make it. Monday was important to that, but it is not over. We will try to get into the Europa League now because the top four looks unlikely.”
United gave the players 24 hours off to recover from Monday and will assess injuries to Cheick Tiote and Taylor tomorrow. They need to arrest a run of four games without a win.
“I think our fans will be disappointed, and what we need is a pick-me-up now,” Pardew admitted.
“We need to get a win – we’re well aware of that. No one needs to tell us.”