Alan Pardew hails Newcastle progress

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has stated that his side are a year ahead of expected progress, and has saluted the players for their efforts this term.

The Sports Direct Arena boss has admitted that competing for European qualification was one of the club’s longer-term objectives, but is pleased that his side are in the mix this campaign.

“I think we’re a year ahead of schedule. I didn’t expect us to be fighting as close as we are at the moment for a European spot, but we’re going to take the chance in front of us if we can,” he told Mirror Football.

“Football doesn’t often put an opportunity in front of you, so you’ve got to try to grasp it. I’ve been saying that to the players.

“We’ve got an opportunity, so let’s grasp it with both hands and hopefully that’s what we’ll do in the remaining games.

“The target was to be in contention for Europe next season, now we find ourselves in contention for Europe this year. We find ourselves in a great position after the result on Sunday. We’ve got to try take the opportunity now.

“One of the keys has been the way the new players have settled. Victories have come at crucial times and we’ve been able to bounce back form defeats, some heavy ones as well, with good results,” he concluded.

By Gareth McKnight