ALAN Pardew is confident that Newcastle can again challenge for a Champions League place.
Pardew’s side finished fifth in the Premier League last season.
The challenge for Pardew and his staff this term will be to balance the demands of domestic football with a Europa League campaign.
So far, Newcastle have signed two players – Romain Amalfitano and Gael Bigirimana – and the Magpies are yet to make a high-profile acquisition.
Pardew is confident of another breakthrough, but confessed: “We can’t throw loads of money at it like Chelsea, who have brought in two great big hitters.
“But that doesn’t mean we can’t compete. If we improve and these guys get another year under their belts together, there’s no reason why we can’t do the same, if not better.
“I don’t want to raise unexpected expectations. I think our fans would honestly accept eighth, though I don’t think they’d want us to finish lower.
“That would be a decent season, but wouldn’t it be great if we could get in the top four, so that’s where we’ve got to aim. Where we fall will probably depend on injuries, form and a little bit of luck.”
Meanwhile, Newcastle have confirmed their trip to Germany – they take on Chemnitzer tomorrow – while games against AS Monaco in Landsberg on Monday and Fenerbahce in Vienna on July 21 are still being finalised.
The low-key tour contrasts with the club’s higher-profile trip to the U.S. last summer, but Pardew’s confident it will be beneficial to his players ahead of a much-anticipated return to Europe.
Pardew said: “I’ve been to Germany before on a pre-season.
“It’s hot, and a bit stuffy, but the facilities are fantastic. It’s top-quality European opposition, and gives us a little taste, which I think’s important.
“It’s no good going to America or Asia. We needed to get some European experience, which we haven’t had for three or four years.”
One player who is unlikely to feature in Germany is defender Steven Taylor, who has a “slight” hamstring problem.
H Newcastle v AS Monaco, July 16 at 6pm exclusively live on ESPN