Last season Newcastle United finished 5th which secured a European place and European nights for Newcastle supporters. But they now are in a precarious predicament, do they sacrifice Europe to focus solely on premier league survival or do they dare to dream and juggle both?
As far as I'm concerned, not attacking Thursday night's game is suicidal and would be idiotic. Why? What was the point I'm qualifying for the competition in the first place? Thankfully Pardew has been quoted as saying that he will attack Kharkiv as 'we want to win something'. So do I and his squad selection matches his words. We now have the players to accommodate both competitions and mount a serious challenge for the Europa league. Sounds absurd but it really is my view. We have quality in depth in every position apart from up front although I'm hoping Yoan Gouffran proves me wrong. All we need is a score draw in Kharkiv to progress. One positive from last Thursday was that we didn't concede an away goal. We also proved that we can score goals past them. But playing Metalist in Kharkiv provides a much trickier affair. We're away and in uncharted territory - playing in temperatures unimaginable and unenviable.
An argument posed by many NUFC fans were along the lines of 'Sunday is a must win game, lose it and our season is gone'. Our season has already gone and I think Pardew/Ashley/Llambias know that. Although this may sound cocky, there are 3 worse teams than Newcastle in this year's premier league. We can afford to not be as worried as were after the defeat to Reading. If we play our strongest team tomorrow and then go out then we have no excuse for premier league failures that may befall us. What will be to blame then? Also, if we do progress surely we'll have something to aim for rather than finishing 15th in the league. Personally I'd take 17h in the league if it meant we reached the final of the Europa league and were in contention to win a trophy.
The squad Pardew has chosen to take with him is the one is a nice blend although his inclusion of so many first teamers surprises me and excites me. I would of left a centre back at home and left either Anita/Tiote at home to prevent any injuries/have fresh legs come Sunday. Id use Sissoko as an impact substitute as well. We also have Gouffran, Ben Arfa and Debuchy all available for Sunday as well as those who don't make the first XI against Kharkiv. So the argument for fresh legs from toon fans is invalid in my opinion.
We can do it. Fortiter Defendit Triumphans but only if we get that elusive away goal.