Speaking exclusively to Sports Direct News, Alan Pardew saluted Mike Ashley’s “bravery” in saving Newcastle United from the Championship, but also suggested that he may not be able to do it a second time should the club be relegated again.
He also revealed that without the handicap of European football in the coming season, though his first aim will be to avoid relegation, he will be ambitious and go for a top ten finish or possibly even higher. Though how he could aim higher than the top ten, he didn’t explain.
“I think realistically we should look to finish in the top ten and hopefully get ourselves in a position where we can attack higher than that” said the Silver Supremo, adding:
“When it gets to February we’ll have a clearer indication of where we’re going to be.”
Pardew then spoke of how it is relief from the pressures of European football, along with good players which has enabled him to aim so high after last season’s disappointing 16th:
“We’ve not got the pressure of the Europa League this season so you would expect us to have a high finish in the league because we have a good team and a lot of good players.”
Moving on to how it is imperative that the club avoid a second relegation after a near miss last season, Pardew then continued on how it was Mike Ashley’s “bravery” which saved the club from the second tier, though he omitted to mention the minor roles played by his prececessor, Chris Hughton, and the players themselves. Pardew explained:
“The bottom line for any Premier League club other than the top six is survival. You need to stay in the Premier League to make sure you secure the funding that pays for the squad and all the staff we carry.
“This club got relegated three years ago (it was actually four years ago – wt) and was in a bit of a mess but it was Mike’s bravery that got them back into the top division yet there was a huge financial cost. We can’t afford to do that so the first priority is staying in this league. Make no mistake about it.
Finally, he stressed the need to carefully manage the expectations of fans of a big club such as Newcastle, stressing that expecting a finish in the European places for a second season in a row was always unrealistic. On this he concluded:
“When you’re at a club as big as Newcastle you have to be careful with expectation. When we finished fifth last year [in 2012] with the Europa League as well people were predicting us to have a similar sort of finish. I don’t think that was ever realistic to be honest.”
The second part of Pardew’s interview (on the influx of French players) is here.