Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Ginola craves Magpies Europa lift

Newcastle have impressed in this season's Europa League
Newcastle have impressed in this season's Europa League

David Ginola wants Newcastle to give their fans something to cheer about by winning the Europa League this season.

Many had predicted Newcastle would kick on from their success last term but with six games of the season to go, the Magpies sit 13th in the Barclays Premier League, just five points above the relegation zone.

The only positive for the Toon Army this season has been their club's form in the Europa League, and Ginola said: "It has been a very tough season for them and it's a long way to go to save the season, but the Europa League means a little bit more for them because they have had a hard season and this competition gives you an opportunity to cheer people up a bit."

They have overcome the likes of Bordeaux and big-spending Anzhi Makhachkala to reach the last eight of the competition, but are big outsiders to make the final in Amsterdam next month after they lost 3-1 to Benfica in the first leg of their quarter-finals.

Ginola, who became adored by Magpies fans during his two-year spell at St James' Park, added: "The Europa League is very important for a club like Newcastle.

"This way the team can say: 'OK, it has been hard and tough but we have managed to do something good in a European competition'. It's almost like a relief for them. Football is not fighting, it's about enjoyment."

With the help of their new influx of French imports, Newcastle started to turn the corner in February, but they have still had to play the majority of the second half of the season with the threat of relegation hanging over them.

That has led to some understandably tense displays, including one on Sunday when the hosts needed a last-gasp strike from Papiss Cisse to grab a win against Fulham. Although the victory eased the pressure on Newcastle slightly, Ginola still feels his former club will have to keep fighting to avoid the drop.

"When you are playing to avoid relegation it's a different world to when you are playing to try to get in to the Champions League," said Ginola, who played 75 times for Newcastle. "We are talking about surviving and we are talking about living. They are completely opposite.

"They are only a few points above relegation so they are not quite there yet. Most of the teams down there will fight until the end. It's going to be really difficult and you need to have a certain mentality to fight these situations."

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