Magpies told to enjoy Europa League

First published in Sport The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Football/Golf Writer

EVERTON manager David Moyes has told Newcastle United to ignore the Europa League cynics by insisting he would love to swap places with the men from Tyneside.

Newcastle's fantastic season ended on a sour note on Sunday when they lost 3-1 at Goodison Park, ending any hopes they had of sneaking in to the Champions League places on the final day.

The lure of competing in the Europa League is a source of constant debate across the country, with the Premier League's leading clubs wary of having to play on a Thursday and Sunday regularly.

The gruelling schedule, with the potential to include long trips to eastern Europe, has caused havoc to clubs' domestic campaigns. It was also treated with disdain by Sir Alex Ferguson earlier this season when Manchester United had fallen out of the Champions League.

But Moyes thinks the competition previously known as the UEFA Cup receives unfair criticism. He would love to be involved in European club football's second tier competition and says it should be treated more seriously.

The Everton boss said: "It will be great for Newcastle. It's something they should embrace and enjoy. I only wish it was us that was in their position.

"All I would say for them next season is that you shouldn't be disappointed if the manager is putting out a lesser team than you think he should be.

"You have to manage 50 or 60 games and that can be difficult. The schedule will have an effect at times, but I would certainly want those problems. I would be celebrating a lot more if we were in Europe than I will be for finishing seventh."

Everton last qualified for the Europa League in 2008-09 by securing fifth place in the Premier League; the previous campaign was Newcastle's last competitive adventure on to the continent stage.

The following season they emerged from a group including AEK Athens, Bate Borisov and Benfica before losing to Sporting Lisbon in the February.

Domestically their form did take a hit, ending up eighth in the Premier League and they have not been able to return to Europe since.

Chopping and changing his team and his system is something Newcastle boss Alan Pardew will be keen to plan for this summer, so he is already working on adding to his squad.

And while he has been satisfied with his team's overall performance in the Premier League, he is mindful of having to improve a goal difference record which was significantly inferior to the rest of the top six.

"We've had a good season because we've had a group of players and a staff that have all been in it together. When you look at our goal difference, I think it's plus five," said Pardew.

"To win 19 games with a goal difference of plus five takes some doing. You need a spirit to eke games out and we've had to win some really close games.

"Next year the focus for me will be on trying to improve us defensively, as much as trying to get those extra few goals that might give you 21 wins and get you a Champions League spot."

Everton, meanwhile, are to appeal against Tim Cahill's sending off in Sunday's win over Newcastle.

The Australian midfielder received a straight red card at the full-time whistle after appearing to get involved in a confrontation with Newcastle's Yohan Cabaye.

The Frenchman has since apologised for his role in the skirmish and the Football Association will now review the incident. Cahill may miss Everton's first three games of next season should the appeal prove unsuccessful.

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