KICK OFF - Pardew admits to faults in pre-season
ALAN Pardew admits Newcastle's pre-season has been far from perfect, but remains confident his side will hit the ground running once the real action begins in eight days time. The Magpies manager has overseen a tumultuous close season that will conclude with a home friendly against Fiorentina tomorrow. Things started badly when Joey Barton was informed he would not be offered a new contract in May, and came full circle when the opinionated midfielder was placed on the transfer list last weekend. In between times, Barton, Yohan Cabaye and Nile Ranger were denied visas to visit the United States, the club's players were forced to play on a plastic pitch and take ten flights in ten days during the tour, Hatem Ben Arfa, Danny Guthrie and Shane Ferguson all sustained injuries, and a long-running pursuit of striker Mevlut Erdinc ended in failure. We've been disrupted heavily by two or three things this pre-season, admitted Pardew. Perhaps they could have been avoided, I wouldn't disagree with that. We've lost three players to impact injuries and that's disrupted us, we can't get away from that. But it happens, and it'll have happened at other clubs. As a manager you have to accept it and move on. We've had a tour of America which I thought was very good in terms of the games. They were tough. Some of those internal flights weren't ideal, something we should have done better.The visa problem with Joey we kind of foresaw, with Cabaye we didn't. That could have gone better for us, because we really wanted him over there. And then we've had this situation (with Barton) which really stems from past history and Joey not getting a new contract. With Barton's position still unresolved, and Jose Enrique's future equally uncertain given his own delicate contractual situation, key questions remain unanswered just a week before Arsenal visit Tyneside for the opening game of the Premier League campaign. Instability at St James' Park is nothing new, but it is rare for even Newcastle to be approaching a new season in such a state of flux. From the outside looking in, the situation appears chaotic, but Pardew insists it would be wrong to paint too gloomy a picture. I don't think chaos is the right term that I would like to use at any football club, and I'm certainly not going to agree to that, he said. But are we having a difficult week Yes. Are we having a situation where we need to get our fans in a better place Yes. Does the team need to improve on the pitch Yes. I think that's where we are. No, it hasn't been the most perfect pre-season - but I've had pre-seasons like this before, where it hasn't gone right, we've lost games and there's kind of been a bad feeling. But then we've kicked off and it's been okay and we're off and running. Things can change just like that.
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