ALAN Pardew believes an improved Newcastle United can be challenging for the Champions League again next year.
However, he admits that the European Championships will make it difficult for them to get their transfer business done early. United saw their top-four mission come unstuck on a disappointing final day of the season at Everton, where Newcastle delivered a poor performance in a resounding defeat to Everton.
Wins for Arsenal and Tottenham meant the result was ultimately academic but it was a downbeat way for a brilliant campaign to end.
And while Pardew saluted his players for the performances which have moved them up a level this season, he could not offer an entirely optimistic outlook for the future.
Admitting that the added demands of the Europa League would make next season a challenge, he also knows that the transfer targets that United have identified may all want to wait until after Euro 2012 to decide on their future.
Right-back Mathieu Debuchy of Lille is one, but he will be France’s first choice at the finals and Pardew knows a string of good performances could send his price rocketing.
After congratulating the North London clubs on finishing in the top four, he revealed: “We’re already thinking about two or three players, but I think you’ll find that a lot of the clubs who might want to do early business will have to wait until the European Championships are over.
“It’s going to be a bit like a roulette wheel, and I’m hoping that the players we’re looking at all have awful tournaments. But there’s a good chance they’re going to have excellent tournaments, and all of a sudden, their price might look a bit different.
“I think all of us will be looking at that closely.”