ALAN Pardew has challenged his Newcastle United side to kick on and qualify for Europe – and not ”switch off” when they pass the 40-point milestone.
United take on Norwich City at Carrow Road tonight looking to challenge the teams above them in the Premier League.
Eighth-placed Newcastle – who finished fifth two seasons ago and qualified for the Europa League – are just a point behind Manchester United.
And Pardew’s adamant his team, on 36 points, will press on and keep the pressure on those above them in the table.
“There’s pressure on us to replicate the first half of the season,” Pardew told SportMail. “That’s what we need to do.
“We’re on exactly the same points as we were when we finished fifth.
“It’s relevant. We can do it. We can get into Europe – we have to really focus on that now.
“I’ve seen teams get to 40 points and switch off.
“That won’t happen to us. I know we’ve only got 36 at the moment. It’s about driving on at the moment.”
Pardew’s counterpart at Norwich, Chris Hughton, is facing a different set of pressures.
The two sides met at the stadium just over a year ago and fought out a goalless draw.
Back then, Newcastle themselves were fighting a relegation battle, and the club’s domestic struggles took a toll on Pardew.
While Norwich are 12th in the Premier League, they are just five points above the relegation zone.
“All those 10 managers (in the bottom half of the table) are under pressure,” said Pardew.
“All their chairmen and owners will be expecting them to stay in the division.
“Therefore it’s a difficult job. I’m glad I’m out of it this year.”
Pardew – whose side were beaten 4-2 at Carrow Road two seasons ago when he was unable to field a recognised centre-half – feels there will be goals in the game.
“We went there with no centre-halves – we played Perch and Danny Simpson at centre-half,” he said. “We were really struggling that day and we got well beaten.
“Last year we were both in a dodgy situation in the league and we both lacked ambition to win it. It was 0-0.
“I don’t think that will be the case this time. We can really push for the win, because we’ve got ourselves in a good position in the league.
“That’s what we’ll do.
“It’s a tough game for us, but it’ll be a tough game for them.
Meanwhile, Newcastle winger Gabriel Obertan is out tonight with a knee problem.