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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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Pardew delights at St James' Park return

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew says he is relieved that he will be able to send his team out at St James' Park again because he and the Magpies players were "hurt" by the stadium's rebranding last year.

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Owner Mike Ashley's decision to rename the club's iconic ground the Sports Direct Arena was met with stiff opposition from supporters and cemented the businessman's status as an unwanted presence at the club in the eyes many.

However, less than a year after that change, Newcastle will once again play at St James' Park following an agreement with Wonga, which saw the money lending company win naming rights to the stadium but opt to restore the original name.

It's a decision that has been greeted positively by Toon supporters and Pardew insists he echoes that sentiment.

"I'm a romantic, so the stadium change last year hurt me and hurt our team," Pardew told Sky Sports News. "It's one of those business decision that you can't get your head around at times as a football person.

"I made a point of saying that the same sign should go up, not a new one, the same sign, 'St James' Park', and I'm absolutely overjoyed with that.

A spokesman for Wonga said: "We listened over the last three days and we saw what really matters to the fans. Football is an emotional sport and it is obviously really important to them. We listened to what they wanted and that is why we did it.''

Newcastle have agreed a four-year deal with Wonga to become their lead commercial sponsor, an agreement which will see the Magpies wear the company's logo on their shirts from next season and which includes an investment of £1.5million in the club's Academy and the Newcastle United Foundation Enterprise Scheme.

"The second part is the money, if I'm honest," Pardew added. "If I can improve the team.

"And thirdly, their involvement at Blackpool buoys me a little because if our fans do have any fears then they should speak with Blackpool fans. Because their involvement at Blackpool I think has improved the club.

"They want to be involved. They want to try things, some we might not like, some we might like.

"They want to be involved in the Academy, the Foundation, that's all good for the academy. You can't knock that.""(Shane) Ferguson has proven there is a route," Pardew said. "When we came up against the biggest team this year so far he got a game. That shows to our Under-10s, who have a game on Sunday, that they have a route.

"You have to have competition, we have to show we have the right coaches and that £1.5m will help with that. It will also help the facilities we have here, because we want three of four more Fergies. We don't want one. We want Sammy (Ameobi), Tav (James Tavernier), Jak (Alnwick) maybe them all to come through and then more beneath them.

"The timing of the opening of the (FA's) national centre (at Burton-on-Trent) is ironic, really. That £1.5m will improve our facilities too. It is not easy, trust me, to get money for the Academy and this deal will help make sure that happens."

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