Belfast Telegraph

Pardew: Euro too good to be true

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is targeting a third-place Barclays Premier League finish as he attempts to fulfil Mike Ashley's unlikely European dream.

The Magpies will tackle relegation-threatened Wigan at the DW Stadium on Saturday looking for a seventh successive league victory, a run which has seen them climb into fourth and to within three points of Arsenal with a game in hand.

Pardew said: "Mike is very determined that we push as hard as we can for the Champions League, and we are going to try to do that for him because he has been very supportive to us this year. We are just trying to win every game."

While the odds remain against Pardew's men ending a remarkable campaign as the closest challengers to top two Manchester United and Manchester City - they still have to go to Chelsea and face Roberto Mancini's team on Tyneside - they remain genuine candidates for Champions League qualification.

That was simply not on the agenda at the beginning of the season, and while they could yet finish fourth and miss out should Chelsea win next month's Champions League final, the manager is aiming as high as he possibly can with the full back of owner Ashley.

He added: "We know we have got a difficult run - on paper, you could say more difficult than the other contenders - but the teams have still got to beat us and we are in pretty good form.

"But we have got a possibility of finishing third, so that's what we are going to try to do."

The prospect of breaking into the top four and yet not making the Champions League is not one which unduly concerns Pardew, but he admits like his counterparts at Arsenal and Tottenham, he will been keeping one eye on a scenario which leaves him with mixed emotions.

He said: "I am kind of split because obviously you want English teams to do well, and Chelsea winning the Champions League would be fantastic.

"But it would take a place away and that's something we will have to keep an eye on. But they are the rules and we will just get on with it."

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