NEWCASTLE United manager Alan Pardew has described next season’s cup competitions as a “second priority” and suggested he would only field his strongest team in Premier League games.
Pardew revealed he is prepared to rest some of his big stars in both FA Cup and Carling Cup, and even in the Europa League campaign, when the club’s young and fringe players will be given a chance to shine.
He made no apologies for focusing on the league campaign, even if it is to the detriment of the knockout tournaments.
This is because he believes the Magpies, who began their pre-season campaign with a 1-0 defeat in Germany last night, can only progress and get stronger by repeating last season’s run to fifth place and the riches, on and off the park, which that would bring. Newcastle fans have not seen their club win a trophy since the Fairs Cup triumph of 1969 and know that the FA Cup and Carling Cup are realistically their team’s best chance to break a hoodoo that has hung over St James’ Park for over 40 years.
Pardew is not completely discarding those tournaments and it would be wrong to say that Newcastle would field a team full of teenagers and no first-team regulars in Europe.
But, at the same time, the United manager made it crystal clear which competition will take precedence.
Pardew said: “The priority for this club is the Premier League. I’ve said that from day one; that’s where our aspirations are.
“The cups are our second priority, all the cups. The young players will get chances in those games. I know that the most important thing is that if we stand still then teams are going to pass us again.
“We mustn’t stand still, so I’ve got improve the team. You can weaken a team trying to improve it, but you have to take that risk or we’re never going to break into the top four.
“You can spoil the recipe that got us success last year, but we can’t stand still, we need to improve.”
Pardew (left) spoke a number of times last season about the squad having a “soft underbelly”, meaning that not enough young players had shown they were good enough to step into the first team.
However, he believes this has changed ahead of the upcoming campaign – and for the better. Pardew will give his best kids a chance in the cups and it would be then up to them to prove they are good enough to make what could now be referees to as the Premier League team.
He said: “I think it’s brilliant for football clubs when young players come through the Academy system. There is nothing fans cheer more than when a young player has come through the ranks.
“We’ve got one local in Sammy Ameobi and Shane Ferguson also came through the ranks. We also bought Haris Vuckic, who has been here four years now.
“They’ve got great potential. I could spend six or seven million on someone who isn’t better than these guys if they realise their potential.
“We could make a big error thinking we can get someone better than them. Hopefully they can continue to progress and they will get games, especially in Europe.”
Newcastle captain Fabricio Coloccini told the club’s website that he will be a proud man to lead his team into Europe after a five-year absence. The Argentinian is most likely be one of the more established stars to play in Europe regularly and this is a challenge he will relish.
Coloccini said: “Newcastle have gone a lot of years without playing in Europe and it will be a nice experience for us.
“Playing in Europe is what every player wants, and it is great for the club as well. We deserve it after a lot of hard work. We have to enjoy every minute of it.”
Despite reports in France that a deal was all but agreed for Mathieu Debuchy to at long last make his much-talked-about move to Newcastle, the right-back was last night still a Lille player.