ALAN Pardew believes it is more difficult for Newcastle United to win the Europa League than it is for a Premier League side to triumph in the Champions League.
A victory against Portuguese side Maritimo at St James’ Park tonight would put the Magpies into the last 16 of European football’s second-tier competition, and even a point would be enough if Bordeaux beat Club Brugge in the other Group D match.
This will mean at least two extra matches next year for a squad that has already been stretched over recent months by injuries and the extra games they have been asked to play due to their European commitments.
Newcastle have nowhere near the resources of the Manchester clubs, Arsenal and Chelsea, but are still expected to reach the final rounds by beating teams who don’t have as hectic a domestic schedule.
Asked whether he felt it was tougher for a club such as Newcastle to win this competition compared to one of the big four with all their resources, Pardew (pictured right) said: “I think it is harder for us. I genuinely do. The four Champions League teams have the finance to attack that with two squads really whereas we are attacking a competition, which has much more games, a heavier schedule and a more difficult match night in a Thursday, and a much reduced squad so it is much more difficult for us.”
Pardew added that he would like to see the Europa League revert back to a knockout competition, as it was when it was the Uefa Cup until the 2004-05 season. English sides have not faired well in the Europa League with no side from this country winning the tournament in either format since Liverpool in 2001.
Pardew said: “We play a heavier schedule than most European leagues and I do think for Premier League teams that it really difficult in this competition.
“That is probably why we have not been that successful in it to some degree. I do feel that perhaps it needs to be looked at a little bit. Whether Spanish clubs or German clubs have the same opinion, I am not sure.
“You only have to look at the other two clubs in the competition (Spurs and Liverpool) and we’re all having very similar seasons at the moment and they are stronger clubs than us financially, so it just goes to show that it does make a big impact on your Premier League situation.”
Pardew confirmed that midfielder Yohan Cabaye is to undergo surgery, which will sideline the Frenchman him for several weeks.
The midfielder is to have an operation on his damaged groin either later this week or at the beginning of next week after limping out of the 1-0 Barclays Premier League defeat by West Ham two weekends ago.
Pardew said: “He will definitely have an operation, and we think it’s going to be on Friday or Monday, I’m not sure. That’s a blow to us because he’s a top player for us.”
Striker Shola Ameobi is a doubt to face Maritimo because he is struggling with a slight niggle in his groin.