Newcastle star: Champions League? Why not us?
Published 22:30 02/04/12 By Simon Bird
Cheick Tiote has insisted that confidence is running so high at Newcastle they can target a top-four finish.
The midfield enforcer was back to his best helping the Geordies beat Liverpool at the weekend and says overhauling Arsenal and Spurs is within reach after a remarkable season on Tyneside.
Boss Alan Pardew has played down hopes of a Champions League place, and says that realistically Newcastle can hope for a Europa League spot instead.
That will automatically be achieved if they finish fifth. Sixth place might be good as long as both FA Cup finalists have qualified for Europe, meaning the place is passed to the league.
That effectively means Newcastle need Liverpool to beat Everton in a fortnight in the FA Cup semi-final to open up an easier route through sixth place.
Ivory Coast star Tiote said: “Getting into Europe is the biggest thing for us now and it is very important for us as players and for Newcastle as a club.
“The first target is obviously the Europa League, but why shouldn’t we be thinking about the Champions League as well? Who knows, it could happen.
“We have got ourselves into a good position, but all talk about Europe will mean nothing if we don’t keep winning.
“If we qualify for Europe, I will look back on this season as one of the best in my career.
“It has not always been easy because I have had a few injuries and I missed a few games because I was playing in the Africa Cup (of Nations).
“But now I want to do everything I can in the games that remain because we can still achieve some really big things.
“We expect to win every game we play at the moment. We are in a very confident mood right throughout the team.
“Everyone is working very hard for each other, and that is the main reason why we are doing so well.
“If we win every game for the rest of the season, it won’t matter what other teams do.”
Tiote will be one of several United players linked with moves away in the summer.
But with European football on offer, a top-six finish on the cards and 52,000 full-house home crowds, there will be few bigger clubs to move to.
Key will be the summer transfer business with a left back, centre back and central midfielder being targeted.
New recruits have settled quickly this season and Tiote praised striker Papiss Cisse.
He added: “Papiss has been brilliant for us. You expect him to score in every game, and that is what he is doing.
“Papiss is full of confidence and that is great to see.”