Pardew laments tough schedule
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has claimed European football can be tougher for England's Europa League contenders than it is for their Champions League counterparts.
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The Magpies face Maritimo at St James' Park knowing victory would ensure their progression from Group D.
However, a gruelling schedule - the game will be their 20th of the season - has taken its toll and with compatriots Tottenham and Liverpool having also experienced difficulties, Pardew believes they are having it tougher than Champions League quartet Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.
He said: "I think it's harder for us, I genuinely do.
"The four Champions League teams have the finance to attack that with two squads, really, whereas we are attacking a competition that has many more games, a heavier schedule and a more difficult night, Thursday night, with a much-reduced squad, so of course it's much more difficult for us.
"You have only got to look at the other two clubs in the competition and we are all having very similar seasons at the moment - and they are stronger clubs than us, financially.
"It just goes to show you that it does make a big impact on your Premier League situation.
"But you want to be in a competition that gives you some fighting chance in your own league, and this is very difficult, and we all know that as Premier League managers.
"It's whispered about. 'Blimey, that's going to be tough for you next year' - that's all heard during the summer - and it has been."
Pardew has called for UEFA to look at the format of a competition which he feels puts Premier League teams at a disadvantage because of the number of domestic fixtures.
He said: "I do feel that perhaps it needs to be looked at a little bit. Whether Spanish clubs and German clubs have that same opinion, I'm not sure."
Newcastle will run out against the men from Madeira knowing a win to go with the two they have enjoyed over Bordeaux and Club Brugge on Tyneside, and the draws they managed on the Portuguese island and in Belgium, would extend their interest into the competition until 2013.
Successive league defeats at St James' Park by West Ham and Swansea have left a pall hanging over the club, but 19-year-old midfielder Gael Bigirimana is confident progression in Europe would help to lift the gloom.
He said: "That's what we are hoping for because if we get the three points tomorrow, we go through and that will just be another different atmosphere in the squad.
"As a player, you just want to go into every game and get the three points. When I watched the team last season, it looked like they could go for five games or 10 games unbeaten.
"But these things happen in football, so we just have to get our heads up and make sure we get the next three points."