Newcastle Utd legends inspire current squad

Steve Harper is applauded before tonights friendly match between Newcastle United Legends and Milan Glory
Steve Harper is applauded before tonights friendly match between Newcastle United Legends and Milan Glory
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NEWCASTLE United’s players were “inspired” by the return of the club’s greats to St James’s Park, according to Alan Pardew.

Hatem Ben Arfa was among the members of the squad that watched former United goalkeeper Steve Harper’s charity game at St James’s Park this week.

Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand, David Ginola and Faustino Asprilla all played for a Newcastle XI against AC Milan Glorie at St James’s Park on Wednesday night.

And Pardew says the match was the talk of the training ground the following day.

“It was nice to see Hatem there,” Pardew said.

“The message at the training ground was ‘what great players we’ve had here’.

“They can try to emulate Ginola, Shearer and Ferdinand.

“We’ve got one or two who can threaten that quality - (Yohan) Cabaye, Ben Arfa or (Loic) Remy maybe.

“This is what great clubs are about. To have a fanbase which is second to none is inspiring. It certainly gave me a lift.

“It was a humbling experience for me to sit in the stand.

“I just saw 51,000 people, with all the money going to charity. I have to take my hat off to Steve Harper for that.

“It’s fantastic. Our Foundation was part of that. They’re going to put the money to good use.”

Many of Kevin Keegan’s famous “Entertainers” side were involved in the game.

Keegan’s team, which fought Manchester United for the title, caught the imagaintion of Tyneside - and the country - for its attacking style.

While Newcastle can no longer compete financially with the likes of Man United, Pardew doesn’t see why his side can’t push on up the table and excite fans, despite a lack of squad depth.

“I’m not saying we can be as good as ‘The Entertainers’,” he said.

“That was a hell of a team, and was certainly closer to titles that we’re going to get because the goalposts have shifted dramatically in terms of the finance.

“Whereas before Man United only had a small advantage over Newcastle, now it’s huge.

“It’s difficult to bridge, but that’s not to say we can’t bridge the gap and bring a trophy, get a high finish or fight for the Champions League or Europa League. That’s what we’re going to do.”