By Tom Easterby
Having drawn a blank in their opening two Barclays Premier League games of the new season, Alan Pardew is under no illusions as to the importance of finding the back of the net as Crystal Palace come to town.
The Magpies impressed against Manchester City and Aston Villa without troubling the scoresheet but, with the Eagles up next up on Saturday, United's manager has called for his side to start shifting through the gears in the final third as they seek a first league win of the campaign.
"I've been really pleased with our control of games and now, really, we just need to finalise that final third action, get some real quality and get ourselves some goals hopefully," said Pardew, a former Palace player.
"If we get a win on Saturday, it'll be a good start from us. Actually I've very pleased with the start because the Manchester City game was always going to be defining to a degree in terms of how we coped in that first game with so many new signings and I couldn't have been more pleased, not so much with the result but with the performance.
"We've taken that on in the second and third games and now the fourth game, now there's a little bit more pressure on us to win, and that's something that the new players are going to have to cope with.
"I don't think our fans would have expected us to win at Villa - they'd have liked us to have won at Villa - but here, they expect us to win against Palace, and that expectation brings different pressure, so these new players are going to have to cope with that."
Summer signing Siem de Jong spurned a late opportunity to snatch victory at Villa Park last weekend when he shot straight at Brad Guzan but, with the Dutchman displaying his range of passing and creativity in flashes against Gillingham in the Capital One Cup in midweek, Pardew hopes de Jong will be able to dovetail nicely with his other attacking options - including Papiss Cisse, who is nearing a return from injury.
"(Siem de Jong) has got that imagination and that quality in the final third to make a big difference for us," explained Pardew.
"I don't think he's 100 per cent by any stretch of the imagination and whether he plays or not or starts on Saturday, we'll have to wait and see, but he'll play a part for sure," he confirmed.
"The limitations he (Cisse) had last year were because of the creative powers we had in the team. I think we have a fairer group, a team that will play to the strengths of others, and I think that's important."
And the United boss also had a word of praise for his under-21s, who dismantled Reading on Monday afternoon despite having gone two goals behind early on.
An Adam Armstrong hat-trick inspired Peter Beardsley's youngsters to victory, and Pardew believes that, with Armstrong and Rolando Aarons having both been called up for England Under-18 and Under-20 duties this week, the future looks bright on Tyneside.
"All the reserves were very, very good," he said.
"Haris Vuckic, Sammy Ameobi were terrific, but Arma was the pick and he's got back in that England team again, as Rolando Aarons has in the under-20s, so our young players are coming through, and if we can get two offensive players out of that group we'll be ecstatic because they're very difficult to get in the modern game."