It was Newcastle’s brilliant campaign last term that has given the club a first European venture for five years, but by the way manager Alan Pardew has treated the Europa League this season, you wonder why they bothered trying to play so well in the first place.
A Champions League spot may have been within grasp as last season drew to a close, but falling just short seems to have been deemed a much worse fate than getting nowhere near it if Pardew’s approach thus far is any indication.
Just last week, ahead of their Capital One Cup tie against Manchester United, Pardew stated unequivocally where the Europa League came in his list of priorities – fourth of four. This before an away tie at Old Trafford, too, a match that was always unlikely to see the Magpies progress and even after defeat in that competition, the former West Ham boss is not going to change his view now.
Actions speak louder than words, though, and the teams selected by Pardew in both the qualifying round and Newcastle’s first Group D match have screamed that message from the rooftops. A raft of changes have been made, with key players rested for domestic duties, and as such, Newcastle’s fixtures in Europe are difficult to assess.
Bordeaux are unbeaten in Ligue 1 this term, currently sitting fifth with 13 points from their seven matches. Their away form has been mightily impressive, picking up two wins and holding Valenciennes and big-spending Paris Saint Germain to goalless draws.
The next one, at home to French side Bordeaux, looks like a potential banana skin. You know with certainty that Pardew will make sweeping changes (especially with a Premier League clash with Manchester United to come on Sunday), which explains away the price you can get with bwin on a home win. The Toon are 13/10, bigger than you might ordinarily expect, while the Ligue 1 outfit are 2/1 with the draw at 23/10.
In truth, the French side look tempting here. Newcastle’s first team have struggled to get going so far, something that Pardew has been very vocal about, and after another stodgy performance and fortunate draw at Reading at the weekend, all eyes will be on Sunday and the glamour clash with the Red Devils.
With the reserves taking the field at St James’ Park, I can’t be tempted by the price on Newcastle, even if it is a tad longer than you would normally get with a full-strength side. Bordeaux are unbeaten in Ligue 1 this term, currently sitting fifth with 13 points from their seven matches. Their away form has been mightily impressive, picking up two wins and holding Valenciennes and big-spending Paris Saint Germain to goalless draws.
In fact, Bordeaux have kept four clean sheets on the bounce away from home in all competitions and they can keep another one against a team who have scored just two goals in three games in Europe this year.
Pardew’s tinkering with the team goes a long way towards explaining that impotence (rusty players lacking cohesion being thrown together) and I think this could be the night they come unstuck. There is nothing about Newcastle that suggests they really care about this tournament and at 2/1, Bordeaux are well worth a play here.
If you’re feeling adventurous, then the 5/1 on Bordeaux winning and there being under 2.5 goals is also worth consideration. There have been fewer than three goals in all of Newcastle’s European matches this year, while there have been under 2.5 goals in four of five of Bordeaux’s.
Recommended bet: Bordeaux to beat Newcastle @ 2/1
Outside punt: Bordeaux to win a game of under 2.5 goals @ 5/1
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