Alan Pardew hits the trophy trail with salvation on the mind

Alan Pardew is targeting derby salvation in the League Cup as Newcastle United tonight face Manchester City

Iain Buist Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew
Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew

The good news for Alan Pardew is the fact he last manager to be defeated in back-to-back derby games actually went on to win a trophy.

Joe Harvey mitigated his Tyne-Wear defeats with a Fairs Cup a year later win which remains the last time Newcastle United lifted major silverwear of any kind. Only his employers probably never spelled out the priorities of the club quite as starkly as board member John Irving, who admitted last month the knock-out competitions which could engage the club’s support and energise the city was not the club’s “priority”.

Irving was merely the messanger for Mike Ashley, though, and all he really did was put on record what all the available evidence told us anyway. During Ashley’s time in charge the knockout competitions have been sacrificed by successive managers and Pardew is hardly immune either, having sent out a team in the FA Cup last season he confessed subsequently was a Newcastle United team in name only.

Irving’s declaration was pre-Sunday, though. And before Newcastle’s richly-talented squad illustrated very clearly they are going to be too good and probably too deep to suffer the indignity of relegation.

In the context of those two events - particularly the latter, which will please an owner whose business model is reliant on banking the Premier League’s cash every year - tonight’s game has assumed significance for Pardew and the club.

The manager stated before the season the Cups were going to be important this season and he has spied an opportunity to alter the agenda tonight. Changes will be kept to a minimum; the team will be one which he believes can win.

Pardew said: “Personally, the Cup is a priority. If you have ever had a taste in the Cup and I have ,although not so much in the League Cup where I have not got a particularly good record, it gives you a real buzz and momentum and I want to get that within the group as quickly as we can.

“I think the last three performances from us have been solid and though we have not had three wins, the performances have been good and we have to take that into Man City. I have to look within the group to find a team I think can give us consistent results so there are one or two I want to look at.”

Pardew will include some of his heavier hitters.

Expect Yohan Cabaye to be involved, along with Hatem Ben Arfa and Loic Remy. Papiss Cisse is likely to get a chance, while Sammy Ameobi will be involved. He expects all of them to treat it like he would.

Pardew added: “I’m a football person. A sports person. If I was playing John McEnroe in tennis I’d want to beat him, though I’m not saying I would beat him. I’d give it a real go.

“I would be surprised if my players don’t have the same view.

“What I think you have to have when you enter these competitions and you do make changes, is a squad which has sufficient depth and a good gameplan especially against a Manchester City. We have that.

“I have been in the FA Cup with this squad where I don’t think we had that.

“I think we have all ourt offensive players fit at the moment and that gives me the chance to look at one or two and see if they can push on the door for Chelsea because ultimately I want this team to improve.” Shola Ameobi is the only survivor from the last derby-day defeat on Wearside who is likely to play tonight and can offer perspective.

He can also offer an insight into how Newcastle can remedy the maddening inconsistency which is threatening to wreck their campaign - as well as undermine Pardew’s assertion he has the tools to return the Magpies to the top half of the Premier League.

He said: “It stems from us as a players.

“What we do as players on a matchday, we need to do the right things all the time, playing the right way. At times we have looked disconnected, the Everton game in the first half, standing off a bit, not working together as a team at times.

“The teams who are consistently good are all working together all of the time, doing the right things, helping each other, whether it is moving forward or coming back defending.

“That is where we have not been great this season at times. It is about trying to get us all on the same wave length on the pitch.

“When we do that, we are a very good side. When you talk about consistency, that is what the manager is trying to get from us – working together as a team.”

Ameobi is experienced enough to have seen plenty of the storms that have battered Newcastle in recent years. He remains an eternal optimist at heart.

He said: “Who is to say we can’t win both games? Man City is a team we have not beaten in a long time.

“It’s something we felt, especially at home, is not good enough.

“We have had a lot of good teams here, past champions have been beaten at home here. Against Man City, unfortunately, we have not been able to do that.

“It’s a scalp that us, as a group of players, want. Being a cup game it is going to be a different atmosphere.

“You don’t know what team we will be putting out, but for us it is a massive game.

“After the disappointment we had at the weekend, if we can get the win it will go a long way to building up our spirits again and give us confidence going into the Chelsea game.

“In football, momentum plays a massive part in it.

“Coming up after that defeat, we need a game as quick as possible. And what better way than to beat City at home in the cup.”

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