Pardew Needs To Challenge The Players
The European dream is over, and to be honest, it was only really a dream.
We beat some handy teams on the way to the quarter final and there were times on Thursday when it looked possible, but ultimately we went out to a very good team. Well organised, attractive to watch, you can see how so many Portuguese players end up playing in the higher profile leagues.
Our next attempt to qualify for this competition, will be as much about attitude as personnel. Debuchy and Gouffran will be eligible if they’re still here, but Cisse needs some more genuine support, and indeed competition for his place. I am sick of hearing this season how the competition has been to the detriment of our league form, because it hasn’t.
The simple fact is that the players we bought in January should have been here last summer and it was no coincidence that results improved domestically once better players arrived. Other Prem teams haven’t been overly hampered by playing in Europe, indeed it could be argued that the better quality opposition raised the level for them.
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I want to see Pardew challenge the players if we ever qualify again, to maintain standards even playing twice a week. It can be done. There is no excuse next season not to have a really good go at the domestic Cups either. As a supporter, and if given the option, would rather be in a Cup Final than strive to finish in the Top 4 into a competition that is quite frankly beyond us. Unless we get bought by someone who weighs their money rather than counts it, a Champions League triumph will have the same attainability as a North Korean holiday home.
We can only imagine the feeling of heading to Amsterdam this season to compete in the Europa final and for me that would trump hands down finishing 3rd or 4th in the league. After all, you don’t get a trophy for that, and I’m sure the memory of a final would live longer in the memory. That is why you enter competitions isn’t it? If our only raison d’etre is to scrape into 4th is financial, then the club may as well use the gate money to buy Euromillions lottery tickets.
Even 44 years ago, at 13 years old, I can remember the excitement of the Fairs Cup final. I will be willing to wager though, that in 44 years time (If I make it) when I’m gumming my weekly mince ration in my retirement cave, and reading about the cryogenically re-born Rolling Stones comeback tour, I wont be going as misty eyed because we once drew in Milan and hung on for grim death to beat Barcelona by the odd goal in 5.
I would though be boring everyone within a 20 mile radius, of how our club captain, rather than a club cleaner dusting the cobwebs out of the cabinet, had lifted a trophy.
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