Pardew eyes end to trophy drought
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has vowed to put all his efforts into ending the club's 44-year wait for a major trophy, suggesting his side's Premier League relegation fears have come to an end.
Pardew was in a bullish mood after Papiss Cisse's dramatic injury-time goal gave Newcastle a 2-1 win against Stoke on Sunday, with attentions now turning to Europa League glory as he looks to complete a Tyneside revival.
Newcastle head into the second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie against Guus Hiddink's Anzhi Makhachkala with the score tied at 0-0 from the first meeting in Russia, with Pardew ready to select a strong side on what he hopes will be "a special night" at St James' Park.
"We have a great opportunity in the Europa League and all my focus will be on that now," Pardew said. "We are now nine points clear of the relegation places and while they say you need 40 points to make sure you are safe, I would expect this team to have enough to do that with just nine games left to play.
"So we can look at the Europa League with real ambition. I will play my best team against Anzhi on Thursday night. We are down to the nitty gritty in the competition now and we have a chance to have a real go at it.
"There are too many games in the Europa League, too many for a Premier League team and with the squad we had in the first half of the season, we could not risk everything in the European games. Now things have changed as we have a squad that can compete.
"Our fans are well educated and they know we have a top team coming to St James' Park on Thursday night. We appreciate the money and effort they are putting in to supporting us at the moment and we will need each and every one of them to create an atmosphere that will give us a special night on Thursday."
Pardew supported the claims of his in-form centre-back Steven Taylor to earn a call-up to the England squad, after the 27-year-old turned in a sparkling performance in the win against Stoke.
"Steven Taylor's performance against Stoke was immense," Pardew said. "It was England standard, without a doubt. They need to look at him at centre-half. It's a problem position for England, but Steven was immense against Peter Crouch.
"The return of Steven and Yohan Cabaye from injury have been just as important to us in the last few weeks as they players we managed to sign in January. They have been fantastic for us since they returned."