Date: Thusday 30th August, 2012.
Referee: Stephen Studer .
UK TV: ITV 4.
Hello, good evening and welcome to our latest “match banter” feature for this evening’s Europa League game against FC Atromitos of Athens.
With a shortage of success in the transfer window so far, Alan Pardew has now been playing down the importance of this competition, even though it is over five years since we last tasted European football with Glenn Roeder’s legendary Intertoto winning “Dream Team” back in the 2006–07 season. Speaking in the pre match press conference for the game, the Silver Supremo said that he will be prioritising the Premiership and the FA Cup, seeing the League Cup and the Europa League as a chance for younger players and squad players to “show their wares,” though he did add that the priority would be raised should the club reach the latter stages of the competition.
Speaking on the fringe players, Pardew commented:
“There’s nothing worse for a manager than to have one game a week. You can only pick 11, and in some ways it’s helpful for me to have these games. I can say to these guys ‘come on, then’. It’s a big year for a lot of players at this football club in terms of are they going to play in the first team. You don’t want to be a squad player, and that’s the competition there should be.”
Then, confirming where the Europa and League Cups stand on his list of priorities he continued:
“The Capital One Cup (League Cup) and this competition will play second fiddle to the Premier League and FA Cup in my view. These are great opportunities for them to show their wares. If we were fortunate enough to get to the later stages of the competition, then the profile of it would rise, and so would the standard of our team. I’m sure of it.”
As to whether this was an indication that Mike Ashley would open his wallet for a huge transfer spending spree in January should the Toon still be in the competition, he didn’t say.
So with the lack of new signings, expect to see more of the bairns trying to stake a claim for themselves in tonight’s encounter. Looking back on last week’s 1-1 draw at Atromitos’s place and what could be learned for this evening’s game, Pardew told NUFC TV:
“Last week we got what I thought was a positive result. They have got a couple of very good players, ones who can travel with the ball and that is always difficult for teams. The manager has got vast experience and that worries me a little bit.”
Atromitos’s manager, Dušan Bajević, does indeed have much experience, having managed a total of eight mostly Greek clubs over the past 28 years, with the exceptions being the Bosnian Velež Mostar and the Serbian former European Cup winners, Red Star Belgrade. In this time the Bosnian manager has won no fewer than 8 Greek Super League Championships, 3 Greek Cups, a Greek League Cup, a Greek Super Cup, a Pre-Mediterranean Cup and a Yugoslavian Cup. But getting back to Johnstone’s Paint Trophy winning Pardew, he went on to tell the club’s website that despite his fears about the Bosnian Alex Ferguson, he will be going out to win the game saying:
“The club wants to win on Thursday and we will put out a side which we think can win the game.”
He also bemoaned the heat of Greece in the first leg, predicting a more energetic game this evening when he said:
“It’s very, very difficult as a player to get your energy levels up when the heat is so high. It was a great experience for us, though. I don’t think it’s going to be 32C in Newcastle. It’ll be a lot cooler, and both teams’ energy will go up.”
Bit he ended that particular part with a note of caution, adding:
“Atromitos will be stronger as well.”
For a more full background to this evening’s game, please check out my collegue AndyMac’s excellent match preview for the game, which includes some great stuff on the financial implications for the club if we do progress in the competition. His preview for the previous game, in Athens is still well worth checking out too if you haven’t already for more information on this evening’s opponents.
As usual, I will post this evening’s team sheets when they become available. As you can see above, the game will be televised in the UK on ITV 4, though I will also post links for the later too for those who are overseas, as well as highlights and possibly a full match video when the game is over so staty tuned!
Howay the Lads!
Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Tim Krul (G), Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (C), Ryan Taylor, James Perch, Gael Bigirimana, Gabriel Obertan, Dan Gosling, Sylvain Marveaux, Demba Ba.
Subs: Steve Harper (G), James Tavernier, Yohan Cabaye, Haris Vuckic, Romain Amalfitano, Adam Campbell, Papiss Cisse.
Atromitos (4-2-3-1): Charles Itandje (G), Ioannis Skondras (C), Sokratis Fytanidis, Nikolaos Lazaridis, Konstantinos Giannoulis, Matias Iglesias, Eduardo Brito, Elini Dimoutsos, Chumbinho, Denis Epstein, Tasos Karamanos.
Subs: Velihir Radman (G), Stathis Tavlaridis, Evangelos Nastos, Panagiotis Ballas, Sebastiau Garcia, Nikola Beljic, Njazi Kuqi.