Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala, one of the best teams money can buy, are Newcastle’s strongest challenge yet in the Europa League – but that’s usually the case the further you get in any competition, especially in Europe.
Alan Pardew – our mentality is strong
Alan Pardew starts off the interview with Sky Sports this afternoon, by asking and answering a couple of rhetorical questions:
“Do I think we have got a chance in the competition? When you get to this stage, all the clubs have a chance.” “Do I think we have got a chance in the competition? When you get to this stage, all the clubs have a chance.”
“You need some luck, but you need a good technical game and you need to have the right mentality in the group. I think our mentality is strong.” “This tie is going to be close and I think the result here will have a huge reflection on St James’ Park because that is an advantage for us, that the second leg is there, for sure.”
“Papiss has been sick since Sunday, so myself and the doctor went to see him this morning to see whether we felt he could travel, with me definitely thinking he could.” “But he didn’t look well, to be honest, so we have had to leave him behind, unfortunately.” “That’s one of the reasons I brought Shola Ameobi, because I didn’t have any intention of bringing Shola.
“It’s a surface that he’s been advised in the past not to really to play on, so it leaves me a little bit short of striking options.” “We have practiced with the squad for three days on the surface and we will have a little experience of it tonight, so we have prepared ourselves.”
“And we have got good technical players – you have to be very, very highly technical on an astroturf pitch, and we have technical players, and I will side with those tomorrow in this team.”
That’s a bit of a surprise about Shola – so Alan wasn’t even going to take him to Moscow because of the plastic pitch, so we’ll have to see who starts up front with Papiss Cisse out – but it may not be Shola.
18 year-old striker Adam Campbell could even get a chance, and he said today that Newcastle had spent three days training on the 4G pitch at Druid Park, the home of Gosforth Rugby Football Club, to get some experience of what playing on a plastic pitch is like.
And Alan is right when he says we have good technical players, who should be able to play well on such a flat surface.
But we’ll find out soon enough tomorrow night – and the game is being televised live around the word – with a 5:00 pm Newcastle kick off time.
You can also reach Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org