NEWCASTLE boss Alan Pardew has come out fighting after a troubled end to the transfer window – and insists that the St James’s Park squad IS stronger than it was a year ago.
The Magpies’ failure to land a replacement for January departure Andy Carroll angered fans.
And it also frustrated Pardew, who also lost influential trio Joey Barton, Jose Enrique and Kevin Nolan this summer.
Up to now, Pardew has kept quiet on Newcastle’s abortive efforts to sign a forward, which went to the wire last Wednesday.
However, Pardew has broken his silence ahead of Monday night’s Premier League visit to QPR – and pleaded with supporters to continue to back his team whatever their misgivings about the club’s controversial recruitment policy.
He also reiterated his confidence in the players that did arrive at St James’s Park, among them Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba, Davide Santon and Gabriel Obertan, believing his side can compete for a top-10 finish.
“We’ve still got a better squad than we finished with last year, even without the signing (of a striker on deadline day),” said Pardew.
“I don’t want to go into that too much, but I just think we’ve started well, and players are playing well.
“We have players in form and we need to keep moving forward. We have everybody pulling in the same direction, and that’s something that can’t be taken away from us.
“No matter how much bad publicity we’ve had, or negativity there is around the place, we still have great team spirit. That’s what we will take to QPR.”
Newcastle go into the QPR game on the back of an unbeaten start to the season.
Neil Warnock’s team, meanwhile, are looking a far tougher proposition than they did a few weeks ago, new owner Tony Fernandes having bankrolled a spending spree late in the window.
Joey Barton, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Anton Ferdinand all arrived at Loftus Road to significantly strengthen Warnock’s squad.
“We want to continue our good start,” said Pardew. “But I think it’s important that we understand that they’ll be buoyed by the new signings, and there will be a little bit of optimism around the place. We have to make sure we counter that, because that enthusiasm could drive them to a win. We need to match it.”
H Wolves winger Matt Jarvis (ankle) is an injury doubt for Saturday’s home Premier League clash with Tottenham.
Wolves manager Mick McCarthy has been able to field the same side for their opening three league games, the Molineux men picking up two wins and a draw.
but confirmed: “Jarvis has a problem with his ankle.”theo wins and a draw.