Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has challenged his players to find their best form for a tough double-header against Bordeaux and Manchester United. The Magpies, who were the shock side of last season, have to live up to their new found billing, and are well wide of the mark.
They have struggled to replicate that level of performance since the start of the new campaign and have rather ground out results in recent weeks.
Alan Pardew: "The beauty of us this season is that we have been able to get results without playing our best football.
"Ideally, you want both together and the more games you play, hopefully the more rhythm you gain.
"We have been disrupted this year by injury more than anything, and that has hurt us again tomorrow with losing Steven Taylor.
"Nevertheless, we hope in the next two games we show our true colours.
"We have missed Danny Simpson, if I am honest. There are times when the wide player of the opposition has been non-existent when Danny plays.
"He goes under-estimated for his defensive qualities. I will be looking forward to seeing him back, hopefully tomorrow if he gets the nod when I pick the team.
"We managers tend to steer away from 'stronger' and 'weaker' teams because the squad has obviously got to be used this season.
"No-one analyses their players more than we do in terms of their performance physically, mentally and tactically, and we need to put a team out that can play and beat Bordeaux.
"With all due respect to the teams we have played in this European competition, the team tomorrow needs to be stronger.
"We respect Bordeaux and we are looking forward to playing against them - but we expect to win."