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Cup priorities could change says Pardew
NEWCASTLE UNITED head for Manchester United in the Capital One Cup tonight with Alan Pardew admitting the competition merely ranks fourth on his list of priorities.
But if the Magpies can stun Old Trafford by sealing a place in the fourth round at the Red Devils’ expense then the manager feels the tournament will take on greater importance.
Pardew is trying to plot a way through a season in English football that has the extra demands of a Europa League campaign crammed in to it.
But he thinks success in the Capital One Cup would be still greatly received, knowing he could become the first Newcastle manager to win a domestic trophy since the 1955 FA Cup triumph.
"If we were out of the FA Cup, still in the Europa League and 15 or 20 points off a Champions League position, suddenly the Europa League would look a very attractive proposition for us,” said Pardew.
“Obviously, the same applies to the Capital One Cup. We just have to attack every competition. We are just entering every game to try to win it and we aren't doing such a bad job so far.”
Newcastle have never won the League Cup and their only appearance in a final of the competition was in 1976 when they lost to Manchester City.
Pardew said: "That is an amazing stat, I was not aware of it. But I do not really want to get bogged down in that. I just know, obviously, the fans are passionate up here and love their football and nothing would give them more pleasure than to win a trophy. I want to give them that.
“But I also have to know what is winning for us. I think getting a Champions League place is probably the biggest thing we could win. It would be massive this season. Can we achieve that? I don't know. Next down after that is the FA Cup, then probably the Europa League and then the Capital One Cup. That is fairly self-evident.”
Pardew is considering ways of mixing his starting line-up tonight, while also retaining a team strong enough to spring a surprise against Manchester United.
Sir Alex Ferguson is considering handing Wayne Rooney a return to action after weeks out recovering from a gash in his leg that required 11 stitches. Pardew, on the other hand, is tempted to give skipper Fabricio Coloccini and midfielder Cheik Tiote first starts after injury.
Aside from those, though, the Newcastle boss is likely to give the likes of Sammy Ameobi a chance to shine in a bid to try to keep his squad fresh for Saturday’s trip to Reading in the Premier League.
Pardew said: “We are going for it. It is difficult to predict what my first choice side is at the moment. I have a lot of players in very good form. This is an unprecedented season for us - four competitions, so many games and at the end of the season we are going to know who has come through.
“Sammy Ameobi, Shane Ferguson, Gael Bigirimana, Sylvain Marveaux, Romain Amalfitano: all these players have a fantastic opportunity this year and so far they are making a good fist of it.
“Haris Vuckic too, he was terrific in Maritimo the other night until he got injured. All these players have an opportunity and whether it is a Premier League game, a Capital One Cup game, a Europa League game, we will try to win it, the same with Man United.
"Obviously, as a manager, you are going to try to protect players for competitions you think are more important to your club to grow as a club.
“We are trying to grow here. We are trying to compete with sovereign states. They have finances way, way above us. But if you think as a manager, you would ever go into a game to lose it, that's ridiculous.”
Pardew was satisfied with the outcome – a 1-0 win – over Norwich City on Sunday and elements of the performance. But he still thinks they can improve.
"We are getting some back to form. Obviously Demba Ba has had a great week, Cabaye is starting to look like we know what he is from last year,” said Pardew, who is considering playing out-of-sorts Papiss Cisse.
“Mike Williamson is probably playing his best football since being at the club and Davide Santon has been a revelation. We have a lot of positives going on but the fluidity and the rhythmic style we had at times last year, we need to try to grasp. Sometimes a victory like Norwich can do that for you."