Alan Pardew

By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor

 

After training on Friday morning, United boss Alan Pardew sat down for a quick chat with nufc.co.uk.

Among the topics covered were the pre-season campaign so far, eye-catching players and taking the Club forward.

Find out here what he had to say in full:

 

How have you found the first few days of our Portuguese training camp?

"Maybe because we had disappointment last year, but there's an added focus this year to do well and I think that is being reflected on the training ground.

"It's been excellent so far and we've brought in a few new ideas to try and take the Club forward, which the boys have responded to.

"We want to develop their power, fitness and speed, as well as getting a game plan which we all know and trust.

"We lost our way a bit last year, and that game plan comes from pressure and confidence. But we are maybe not under the same spotlight as this time last year, so to speak, so maybe the pressure has gone.

"We are in a good place (mentally), we have had a good first (pre-season friendly) result, it's a good training camp with excellent facilities and so far, so good."

 

You stated after the Motherwell victory earlier this week that this is the toughest pre-season you have ever put a team through. Can you see the players responding to that with their work on the training pitch?

There's no point in saying you're going to put the toughest pre-season on if it's resulting in injuries and is counterproductive for the team.

So far we have been fortunate with no injuries and no strains, and yet we're really cranking up the pressure on the players.

We are doing it with the best knowledge we can, using Faye Downey, who is a Performance Director Consultant. Her overseeing of our work has definitely helped already.

 

That extra fitness and intensity could be the difference between a goalless draw and a late 1-0 win come the start of the new season…

Last year with the length of the campaign, the Europa League and everything else, sometimes we were in games where we started to lose our way towards the end of them.

This year we want that to be in reverse - push the team so hard so that in the last 15 minutes we are still right at it and able to give it everything we've got.

And we can do that, if we have got the levels to do it, which is what we are working towards. With no Europa League this season I'm confident that will help us.

 

It goes without saying that you want to strengthen the squad but how pleased have you been with the competition for places so far this pre-season, particularly from some of the younger players like Paul Dummett, Jak Alnwick and Haris Vuckic?

There's good competition in most areas now and there will also be other bonuses like - hopefully - another full season for Sylvain Marveaux, who has been hampered by injury since he came here.

We also have a fully fit Hatem (Ben Arfa), four fit centre-halves and suddenly there are more options than we had for long periods last year.

The centre-halves is an area I'm particularly happy with. We have four experienced guys and Mapou (Yanga-Mbiwa) in particular has now had six months in England is looking terrific.

We have a lot of good things in place, and in the three years I've been here I definitely feel this is as strong as we've ever been at this stage of a season.

 

You mentioned Mapou, and it was a real show of faith to give him the captain's armband at Motherwell when he is still learning his way in a new country, new culture and new club…

He's a natural leader and has done it before for Montpellier in the Champions League.

The only thing he is lacking is experience of the Premier League but that will obviously come, and his English is improving all the time.

You can see in the way he trains and plays that he is a natural leader and I want to encourage that out of him even more.

We need more of those types of players and that leadership.

 

While over here in Portugal we have two friendlies - against Rio Ave on Saturday (6pm kick-off) and against Pacos de Ferreira on Tuesday (8pm kick-off). What are you expecting from those fixtures?

They are both good teams and Rio Ave, in particular, had a great season last year.

I would like to think we will be ahead of them physically, I want two more good performances to follow Motherwell and I want us to win both games.