ALAN Pardew says the spirit at Newcastle United must be unbreakable if they is to challenge for trophies – and that means there will be no way back for fans favourite Hatem Ben Arfa.
The forward, who has denied suggestions he is a disruptive influence behind the scenes, has been frozen out by Pardew in pre-season.
The Frenchman could opt to see out the final year of his contract but as long as Pardew is manager he is unlikely to play.
Pardew wouldn’t discuss Ben Arfa’s situation ahead of tomorrow’s season-opener against Manchester City. The 53-year-old also wouldn’t talk about winger Jonas Gutierrez, who is understood to be in his native Argentina.
“I don’t want to comment on those players at the moment,” said Pardew.
Pardew, however, said maintaining a unified dressing room was one of his top priorities ahead of the new season.
Asked if it was important that the players who were not in his plans were sold before the transfer deadline on September 1, Pardew said: “Maybe, maybe not. It depends. I think the balance of the squad is always important – the spirit is crucial.
“When you see teams that win trophies, it’s obvious you need a group of players who not only have the quality and physical prowess and more importantly have the spirit, because you can see great teams who fail when they don’t have that.
“Look at Spain when they won World Cup, and France after they won in ‘98, you need that spirit. I think we have a great spirit this summer.
“I will not allow anything to alter that. I’ll ensure it remains as it is.”
There is a cautious optimism on Tyneside after a summer of transfer activity – signing nine players – and Pardew says that is replicated on the training pitch.
“I can sense a really positive mood on the training ground,” said Pardew, who was the subject of protests from fans in the latter months of last season when the team’s challenge for a European place fell away alarmingly.
“I’m confident that will be replicated in the stands.
“We have more depth and more quality and I think when I signed a long contract with Mike (Ashley, United’s owner), and the club we both knew there would be ups and downs for both of us.
“It was fairly obvious that he listened to me at the back end of last year and the support I’ve had in terms of the signing of the new players is exactly what was needed.
“I’ve nothing to moan about now in terms of what’s happened this summer – we’ve got a strong squad, perhaps the biggest and best I’ve ever had in terms of options.”