NEWCASTLE United’s backs-to-the-wall performance on Wearside has set the club up for a huge week on Tyneside.
That’s the verdict of manager Alan Pardew ahead of home games against Club Brugge and West Bromwich Albion.
Newcastle came within a few minutes of recording a win against Sunderland on Sunday despite having midfielder Cheik Tiote sent off midway through the first half.
While United only claimed a point, the performance before and after Tiote’s red card heartened Pardew.
Newcastle entertain Brugge on Thursday night knowing a victory – after a win and a draw in the group stage – would see them take a significant stride towards the competition’s Round of 32.
And a Premier League victory over West Brom would take the club back into the top half of the table.
“It’s a big week, because we’ve now set ourselves up for Brugge,” Pardew said.
“If we beat them, we’re almost there in the Europa League, and then there’s West Brom. If we win that, suddenly we’re where we want to be.”
The result left United in 11th place, and a point behind Swansea City above them.
Meanwhile, Pardew fielded Mike Williamson alongside Fabricio Coloccini in the centre of defence, despite Steven Taylor’s return to the squad after a spell out through injury.
Taylor – who came off the bench, and was the subject of a vile chant from home fans – could now start against Brugge at St James’s Park.
“Willo’s been brilliant,” added Pardew. “People forget I’ve never favoured anybody over anybody else, and Willo put in one of his great performances, trust me. He was brilliant for us.”