NEWCASTLE United have plenty left in the tank as Alan Pardew’s side drive towards to the end of campaign.
The club is chasing a place in the Europa League’s quarter-finals – and a top-10 finish in the Premier League.
Newcastle’s relegation worries have eased slightly – though 13th-placed United were still just six points above the drop zone ahead of this afternoon’s game at Swansea City – after an upturn in fortunes in recent weeks.
Last month’s signings lifted morale off the pitch – and improved performances on the field.
And Pardew’s looking for his team to continue on an upward curve between now and the end of a campaign which had unravelled alarmingly late last year amid a rash of injuries and suspensions.
He has frequently pointed to Everton’s strong finish to last season – the club finished seventh after a poor start – as an example of what could be achieved by Newcastle.
“What we’ve got to do now is drive towards the finishing line,” Pardew said. “We’ve got to finish like Everton (last season) – that’s how I’m going to focus the team.
“Now it’s about driving towards the finishing line, and seeing where it takes us. We might surprise ourselves.”
While a depleted United were inching towards the relegation zone, the European football was a distraction, and Pardew fielded significantly-weakened teams in the group stage of the competition.
However, with Pardew now having added strength and depth, the Europa League is being seen in a very different light, such is the potential for a run to the latter stages.
Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala stand between Newcastle – without a major piece of silverware since the Fairs Cup win of 1969 – and a place in the last eight.
“We’ve had a difficult season,” said Pardew. “And I don’t think we’ve had enough credit we’ve deserved in the Europa League.
“We put some teams out that weren’t our best. We had to manoeuvre and play a lot of young players. We did well in that competition.”