ALAN Pardew is hoping Newcastle United can take advantage of a World Cup hangover in their season-opening game with Manchester City at St James’s Park.
For the second year in a row, United will kick off their campaign against Manuel Pellegrini’s side, who won the title last season.
The Citizens strolled to a 4-0 win in last season’s opening game at the Etihad Stadium, but Pardew is hopeful of a better start to next term, despite the fact the Magpies haven’t beaten City since 2005.
Many of Pellegrini’s squad are likely to miss much of pre-season after competing in the World Cup, and Pardew feels that could give Newcastle an edge.
He said: “It replicates the fixture we had last year, though obviously that was away.
“It’s a tough start, there’s no doubt about that.
“We’ve not really stretched Man City in recent years – certainly not since I’ve been here – so it will be nice to get a result against them and get our season up and running.
“They are obviously champions and most of their squad is coming back from a World Cup, so that might give us a slight advantage.
“I think the big sides, coming off the World Cup, might struggle to get going.
“There’s a little bit of history of that happening before, and that might be an advantage to us, but we’re certainly looking to be stronger than we were last year – particularly the second half of the season – when we start next season. That’s our focus.”
Pardew is happy with the fixture list Newcastle have been given, but has stressed the importance of a strong start.
He is concerned about the teams United must face in December – including Chelsea, Arsenal, Sunderland, Manchester United and Everton – and feels Newcastle must start strongly to relieve the pressure heading into that run.
Pardew added: “We know, like all fixture lists, it throws up a couple of months.
“December looks particularly tricky, and I think we need to get a good points tally going into that month because it’s going to be tough for us.
“I’m really optimistic about the fixtures – it’s as good as it could be.”