Alan Pardew insists Newcastle United’s target remains to qualify for European football, even if he admits the burdens of the Europa League make him “wary” of a competition that he believes is almost intolerable for Premier League clubs.
Pardew is adamant that Newcastle, sixth in the Premier League and just four points off the top four, are desperate to maintain their momentum and qualify for Continental competition again.
But he believes that the Europa League is a “massive problem” for top-flight teams, and has called for the Premier League to intervene on the club’s behalf to lobby UEFA for a change in format.
The United manager’s comments are likely to prompt fresh debate among Newcastle United’s supporters, who saw their team nearly drop out of the Premier League last season as they reached the last eight of the Europa League. After securing survival at QPR. Pardew said he would “thank God that we are not in the Europa League” this season.
It was a light-hearted remark but it is representative of wider and deadly serious concerns that the manager has about the competition – and he believes that the struggles of Swansea and Tottenham are directly related to their participation in the competition. Wigan are sitting 12th in the Championship.
“I think the Premier League need to look at it, on behalf of our clubs. The evidence is there that the Thursday to Sunday is not fair,” he said.
“I think it’s different for us than the other European nations. The impact of what we do in the Premier League is far different to their football.
“We want to be back in Europe. The Europa League is a massive problem to Premier League teams and Swansea and Tottenham are both feeling that like we did.
“I do think the Premier League and Uefa should get together and look at that because the demands on Premier League teams are greater than in other countries.
“It’s something we’re wary of we’ll say that now – but we’re chasing a Europe spot and that’s what we want to get.”
Pardew wonders whether qualifying for Europe is seen as the reward it once was. Inside the Newcastle boardroom they spoke with disappointment about the limited financial rewards of the Europa League, even if it produced some memorable evenings.
“I think (clubs) are thinking twice about Europe. If you ask the Swansea or the Spurs chairman about whether it’s something that’s worked for them, I don’t know what their answer would be but I’ve got a good idea.”
Pardew knows that adding to the squad can push United into European contention and has repeated his assertion that the club are now looking to next month.
He said: “Yes, we’ve had meetings about the transfer window. I’ve been told we’re in a good position in all ways. We’re working well, we’re looking at players and we’re making phone calls.
“Those are the sort of calls that every team in the Premier League and not just us are making, just to see where clubs are and what they want to do. We want to make sure we don’t miss a player in this window. If one becomes available that we know and like then who knows? We might do business. I’m not overly-concerned to bring somebody in at this time, although that’s not to say that we won’t.
“We have an opportunity to strengthen when things are going well. But it’s about the players becoming available. It’s all very well saying we could get a striker, a right-back or a centre-half. But if you go to the club and they say we definitely don’t want to sell him now but maybe in the summer come back to us, what do you do?
“This window feels different, very much like the one where we took Papiss. When you think about it, we were going well, we took Papiss and then we kicked on again, that was good for us. But we reflect on all the windows and how we’ve done and we’ve been honest enough and said that the summer one, we got wrong.
“In the last two winter ones we’ve done very well.”