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Pardew: City win would be the perfect platform.

Byline: Neil Cameron ? (0191) 201-6113 ? neil.cameron@ncjmedia.co.uk

ALAN Pardew has challenged his players to give themselves a perfect platform for the next stage of their European adventure by winning at Manchester City today.

Newcastle United are at the Etihad Stadium this afternoon and then fly to Lisbon on Tuesday two days ahead of their Europa League quarter-final first leg against Benfica.

Pardew believes his side will today come up against a side as strong as the one they face on Thursday.

That makes this match against the Premier League's second placed team a prefect preparation for what lies in store against Portugal's biggest club side.

It is a crucial six days for the football club and the Newcastle manager wants it to begin with a morale-boosting victory.

Pardew said: "We are going to get a similar scenario at City as we will in Lisbon.

"So hopefully we can put in a really strong performance at the weekend ahead of playing Benfica. That would be the ideal scenario.

"The most important thing is that we give ourselves a platform for both games.

"We were on a real high going into the Wigan game, but then suffered huge disappointments on a number of levels. That's the beauty of football, how quickly it can change.

"But while these next two games are a mouth-watering prospect, we still need to deliver. That is my priority, to put on strong performances and get good results.

"If we can do that this week then it will go a long, long way to how we are reflected upon at the end of the season."

Pardew seemed to suggest a few weeks ago that Newcastle could look up the From Back Page table, rather than over their shoulders after a decent run of results. But Newcastle are not out of danger quite yet and probably need two more victories to be sure of staying in the Premier League. Pardew said: "Every team in that bottom ten won't be comfortable yet. We're all striving to get close to 40 points as quickly as we can and that's our goal, too. "History dictates that teams can sometimes make a late run. West Ham once won five of their last seven when they survived or something like that, so you have to be on your guard as a Premier League side. "This is the business end now and for all of us there'll be extra tension on the game, there'll be extra emphasis from the media - and you all need to deal with that and be able to get your results." Manchester City this season have not been anywhere as clinical as the squad that won the title last May in such dramatic fashion. Pardew, however, remains a fan of the team, and their manager, Robert Mancini. He said: "When you have won the championship, as they did with the last kick of the season, and then to back it up next year, is difficult. "Those first 10 games for them meant it was difficult for him to pick up momentum, I think they will learn for this and be better for it. "I do hope the manager stays because he will be better for it as well. That experience can help him next season. "I still don't think this is a disappointing season for City. They can still have a great season in the Premier League by finishing second to one of the best Manchester United teams Alex has had for a number of years. "It's not over yet. So don't be fooled. If they win the rest of their games then it could be a fabulous season." Win at City would be the perfect platform
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 30, 2013
Words:619
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