NEWCASTLE United can win this season’s FA Cup, according to Alan Pardew.
The Magpies kick off their campaign at home to Blackburn Rovers in today’s third round.
Manager Pardew has told his players to focus on the job in hand because they have a chance of lifting the trophy for the first time since 1955.
Pardew has never won the world’s most famous cup competition, but has twice been a surprise finalist – as a Crystal Palace player and West Ham United manager.
He said: “I take it seriously because it has been a great for me.
“As a lesser team we (Palace in 1990) were seven minutes from winning it and West Ham did brilliantly to get to the (2006) final and we almost won it.
“This team is better than those two teams so we can win it.
“Too many players in the Premier League do not focus on this fixture, they class the Premier League or Champions League above it and therefore you have the odd freak result. I am on my guard against that.
“In terms of the teams in the country right now, we have a chance of winning it.”
Newcastle’s comfortable seventh place in the table gives them the freedom to attack the competition. With 33 points, they are already close to safety, while realistically the title and even Champions League qualification are out of reach.
Europa League qualification remains their chief target and, while finishing seventh could be enough, winning the Cup would guarantee it.
It would also be a far greater cause for celebration at a club without a major trophy since the 1969 Fairs Cup.
It is why they will not be following the trend of taking the competition disrespectfully lightly.
Pardew added: “Some situations have devalued it.
“However, for the likes of us, a team which is trying to grow, and teams which do not have the depth of squad to win the title – which we have not – it is a competition you have to go and try to win.
“Ourselves, Everton, Stoke, Fulham, West Brom, all the way down – you look at those bottom sides and they are probably thinking, ‘we do not need a distraction of a Cup run’ but you still want that momentum.
“For those clubs who feel they have good stability in the Premier League you will attack it with everything.
“It would be nice if it went outside the top six.”
Portsmouth, in 2008, are the only team outside the current top six to have won the FA Cup since Everton in 1995.
Even Tottenham Hotspur have not won it since the team of Paul Gascoigne and Gary Lineker.
Pardew added: “The stats are amazing and go to show when it gets to those final stages the top teams do focus on it because it is very important for managers of those clubs to win trophies. Liverpool, (Manchester) City, (Manchester) United, Arsenal, Chelsea – winning the FA Cup for any of those managers reinforces their philosophy and takes them forward for the next year.”
Pardew was less than a month into his tenure when Newcastle were knocked out of last season’s competition after a 3-1 defeat at Stevenage, then of League Two. Pardew has mixed feelings about it.
He reflected: “I had to go into the squad and it was a bad night, don’t get me wrong.
“The environment did not help, it caught us out, but there was also some benefits.
“It taught me a few things about the squad. A couple of those situations I have now corrected.”
Today’s game is Newcastle’s sixth in 22 days and the absence of Demba Ba and Cheick Tioté on African Cup of Nations duty will force changes.