NEWCASTLE UNITED boss Alan Pardew has stressed the importance of maintaining a positive atmosphere on Tyneside following a fruitful summer in the transfer market.
Nine new arrivals have galvanised the feeling amongst supporters after a poor finish last season, while they have also given the squad a much-needed boost after the departure of Yohan Cabaye in January.
The Magpies lost their opening game to reigning champions Manchester City on Sunday, but that didn’t seem to sour the optimism sweeping through the city or the camp.
Pardew endured a tough time towards the end of the last campaign when a large section of supporters turned on him with the situation reaching boiling point when he was forced to watch the final home game against Cardiff City away from sight in the dug-out because of boos from the stands.
The influx of summer signings has gone some way to appeasing the fans, but Pardew knows things can change very quickly if his side don’t make a good start to the campaign.
The Magpies travel to Aston Villa today in the first of three games in seven days with a trip to Gillingham in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday before Crystal Palace visit St James’ Park next Saturday.
“We're in good shape,” Pardew said. “The feeling in the local media and press and our fans is one of optimism.
“That's felt on the training ground as well. It's felt by my staff and some of my staff have been here for 25 years. There's a genuine feeling we've got a decent side here and I think we need a couple of results under our belt and then see how quickly it grows.
“There are a lot of new players, though. Someone said to me, are we carrying a bit of negative history for last season but only half the team were playing, the other 50 per cent are new.
“We are kind of half carrying it and half not. The one half are all bubbly and asking when we're going to win.
“It was our home form last season, with seven wins away from home. I'd be willing to take that, the home form was the problem and it's a huge week with Palace on the horizon let alone Villa and Gillingham.
“The new arrivals really helps lift the players who were here last year. That's massive I think. When you've had a disappointing season one of the points I've made to Mike (Ashley) and Lee (Charnley), and the disappointment on the back of Cabaye's departure, is that it's important for new players to come in quickly. We did that and I'm pleased with that.”
With three games in a week, Pardew admits he will be using his entire squad in a bid to avoid fatigue, but no matter who plays the Magpies boss has targeted three wins.
He said: “I've got a good idea on Tuesday of the team, the sort of strength I need to play that game. We need to win it, I make no bones about that.
“Getting four points from six and a win in the cup would be ideal, but we could get better than that and we are capable of doing better than that. That would be a realistic target, though.”
While Pardew has added several creative players to his squad, there is still a feeling Newcastle lack a goalscorer capable of matching the returns of Demba Ba and Loic Remy.
French international Remy Cabella has also been backed to fill the void left by Cabaye, but the Magpies boss believes there are several players capable of doing so.
He said: “They're different players (Cabella and Cabaye). What Remy does in terms of great moments in the game, he can create them - obviously Cabaye could do that so there's a similarity in that.
“You need a framework for those players and a platform to win games. Now we need the other side of it, that special quality that Cabaye gave us, that Demba Ba and Loic Remy gave.
“Cabella is very much a replacement for one of those three names, and de Jong, Riviere, Cundo (Facundo Ferreyra), Rolando (Aarons) and Ayoze (Perez), who came on and did a nice cameo, have got to ring with the same noise bell as those other players.”
One player Pardew admits he has been impressed by is Mehdi Abeid. The young midfielder looked set to leave last summer having failed to impress, but a productive loan spell at Panathinaikos has put him back in the frame.
The Greek side remain interested in signing Abeid permanently, but Pardew revealed he is close to being part of his first-team plans.
“I've spoken to him this week,” the Magpies boss said. “I've been impressed with him in pre-season and he's closer now than he's ever been to the first team. I think he'll be battling for a place. He hasn't started as you know but he's very much in my thoughts.
“It was a season where he did absolutely terrifically on loan and he's proved to me in this pre-season that maybe, there are still question marks obviously, but he's a lot closer to the group.”