Alan Pardew last night claimed the offensive players at his disposal are good enough to ensure Newcastle United challenge in the top half of the Premier League.
The manager watched his players beat Schalke 04 3-1 in Germany yesterday afternoon, with Emmanuel Riviere and Remy Cabella among the scorers, and there was even time for new loan signing, Argentinian striker Facundo Ferreyra, to make his debut only two days after joining the club.
It is the wish of Newcastle supporters that their team becomes a force in English football once again, proving that the fifth-place finish of a few seasons ago was not a complete anomaly.
Pardew does believe that, with the signings he has made thus far – and he hinted more could come in before the end of this month – his team can mix it with the big boys.
Pardew said: “It is very difficult for the likes of the teams outside of the Champions League money to compete. But we are trying to do it in an educated manner.
“We have been accused of not spending the money we’ve brought in, but now we have spent it and we can hope to get as close as we can. Certainly, offensively we are definitely stronger. There is no doubt about that.
“Siem de Jong (left at home with a foot injury) should be okay for next Sunday’s match with Real Sociedad. Add him in the mix, we could really trouble teams. That’s something we didn’t do in the second half of last season. We haven’t had a lot of time with Remy, Moussa (Sissoko) or Daryl (Janmaat) who played in training today. But we are looking much stronger offensively. It was nice the guys got their goals.”
On Ferreyra, who is something of an unknown, Pardew revealed that Fabricio Coloccini had a hand in the move and that the on-loan Shakhtar Donetsk player has a chance to make his move a permanent one.
Pardew said: “Coloccini knows him and he was a big influence in Argentina. He then went to Ukraine and was a bit in and out their team, but they have a good squad there so he didn’t get many chances. He will get more chances with us. We think he is a player who can grow.
“As I understand the deal, we have the option to take him on. So therefore I hope he can show the sort of form he did in Argentina in particular.”
The Newcastle manager didn’t rule out more business being done and spoke of his hope that fans would appreciate the club had spent money in the transfer window.
However, it could be argued that all Newcastle have really done is use the proceeds from Yohan Cabaye’s sale while merely dipping into their television revenue, despite seven new faces arriving.
Pardew said: “We have always maintained that we will watch the window right up until the last hours.
“I think we have done some terrific business this summer. It must please the Newcastle fans that we have signed some exciting, offensive players.
“And, for me, I feel far more comfortable with the team and that we can play a brand of football that is expected of us.”
Pardew was keen to praise 18-year-old Rolando Aarons, who scored a spectacular, if perhaps slightly fortunate, goal in yesterday’s 3-1 win. A cross/shot from long range fooled the Schalke goalkeeper.
He also praised Gabriel Obertan (pictured below), who remains a Newcastle employee despite having been little more than a bit-part player for the past three years.
Pardew said: “Perhaps the real highlight, if I’m honest, of pre-season so far has been Rolando. He was again terrific and it’s nice to see a young player really pushing.
“I thought he was a real problem today for Schalke and may that continue in terms of his progression.
“Did he mean the goal? He says he did. He looked me straight in the eye and said he did.
“I was really pleased with our fans today. It was nice to hear them singing Obertan’s name. He is another player who has worked hard this summer and if he can take that into the season then that’s a bonus for us. He has been troubled with injury.
“We started with a much more experienced side today. We had been working towards this game. A tournament such as this is difficult for all the managers when you have two games so close.
“We steered clear of injuries, which I’m happy about. Our performance was average to good. We are really pleased with that because it’s a real high-calibre tournament and the best team won. Malaga were better than the other two teams at a technical levels For us to play a different type of game was very useful. It was good experience to play against Malaga and Schalke.”