Pressure off Newcastle: Pardew

Updated: 12 May 2012 14:33 IST

Alan Pardew insists the pressure is off in Newcastle United's unlikely bid to qualify for the Champions League.

Newcastle, UK:

Alan Pardew insists the pressure is off in Newcastle United's unlikely bid to qualify for the Champions League.

Pardew's side round off a successful Premier League campaign at Everton knowing that a final day victory could secure a top four-finish to seal a memorable campaign.

If fifth-placed Newcastle record only their second win in nine visits to Goodison Park, either defeat for Arsenal at West Brom or Tottenham failing to beat Fulham will be enough to clinch fourth or even third should all three results occur.

Fourth place will only be good enough to qualify for a place at European football's top table should Chelsea fail to beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final on May 19.

The London club's midweek defeat at Liverpool means Newcastle, who are guaranteed at least a Europa League place, can finish no lower than fifth, a notable achievement for a side tipped by many at the start of the season to struggle.

Whatever the result against Everton, Pardew insists his players can reflect on a season of progress, regardless of which European competition they find themselves in next season.

"The Champions League is the pinnacle of the game, and to be competing for it in the final match is a great achievement in itself," the Newcastle manager said.

"This is where we want to be, and to simply be competing to be there is more than we imagined.

"To come fifth would be a marvelous achievement by this group. I can look every one of my players in the face and say to them that they've performed this season."

Pardew is set to name an unchanged starting line-up after reporting no fresh injuries as Newcastle look to end an astonishing record of never having won away from home on the final day of the Premier League season -- an unwanted run stretching for 17 games.

Just three years ago they lost on the final day at Aston Villa to suffer relegation from the top flight, but since then the club has been on a steeply upward trajectory, one which Pardew has helped to continue since his appointment in December, 2010.

"Hopefully we can go out now on a high at Everton. To be in with a chance of third spot going into the final game is just a phenomenal effort. I'm so proud of all the players."

Newcastle face an Everton side with plenty to play for in their final match as the Merseyside club look to finish above neighbours Liverpool in the Premier League table for the first time since the 2004-05 season.

Manager David Moyes is demanding his players end a roller-coaster season, which started with six defeats in the opening 10 games, on a high.

The Toffees start the final day in seventh, one point and one place above Liverpool, who visit mid-table Swansea.

"I said at the start of the season that finishing in the top 10 would be an acceptable achievement," said Moyes, who has recently celebrated his 10th anniversary in charge.

"We want to finish the season strongly and in-form. We're not thinking of this as being the last game of the season. As far as we're concerned it's just another game and we want to win. Newcastle have been touching the top four all season and have done really well. They've really kicked on."

Left-back Leighton Baines, who has been linked with a £10 million move to Manchester United, is set to return from a hamstring injury while captain Phil Neville is also hoping to feature after a similar problem.

Topics : Football Newcastle United Everton Manchester City Alex Ferguson Mark Hughes English Premier League
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