Saturday, April 01, 2006


Pardew's Q&A

From the official site...

Last season, at the end of March, everything suddenly clicked for the team and the effect has carried through in a big way to this season. What happened to cause that?
Geoff Chamberlain

The answer to that is a theory that I have about any workplace in every walk of life. I knew we were doing the right things, recruiting the right people, and that our work on the training field was of the highest order. It just needed a tipping point, and that tipping point probably came down to selection at the end of the day - Jimmy Walker coming in as goalkeeper, Elliott Ward coming into the defence alongside Anton Ferdinand. All of those things combined - not one more important than the other - for us to turn the corner and go on that run, which we are still on to be honest.

Can you really ascribe the low incidence of injuries in the squad this year to the fitness programme in place?
Michael S Barber

In our Head of Technical Support, Niall Clark - who I call 'The Professor' - I believe we have the best person in the game for conditioning players, and also for the recovery and maintenance of players when it comes to injuries. My recruitment policy is to sign players who don't have bad injury records, and the combination of those factors is the reason we have looked so fit and suffered very few problems with injuries this season.
We also happen to have a very good physiotherapist, Steve Allen, who joined the Club last summer, and don't underestimate the impact he has had on the players.
It's all about creating a workplace that enables everyone to thrive. We have a very strong spirit among the players and the staff, with an aim to produce our very best every week, and to do that we need to have our best players fit and performing well.

Elliott Ward and Mark Noble were sent out on loan this season, will they be real contenders for the first team next season?
Les McMillan

At the moment, only Elliott Ward has made the kind of impression that warranted him coming back here and receiving a chance in the first team. Unfortunately, things didn't go too well up at Bolton for him, but he has definitely got a big chance in the future. In the case of Mark, he has had his problems with injuries this season but, if he wants to get in the first team here, then I need to hear some big reports of his performances at Hull City.
We've sent a number of young players out to lower league clubs this season in order for them to gain more experience. Tony Stokes is at Rushden and doing well, Chris Cohen has been playing regularly for Yeovil, and I'm a great believer that they will learn more playing first team football elsewhere than they will in the reserves here.
That has always been my policy and will be for as long as I am here - the young players will go out on loan and, hopefully, when they come back to me they will have made an impression.

How much involvement do you have in the progress and development of our Youth Academy players?
Brad Carroll

I think I've already gone on record in saying that I try not to interfere with that part of the Club. Because of the tradition and the success our youth academy has enjoyed, I don't think it is necessary for me to be involved.
I haven't interfered with anything that Tony Carr and his staff are doing, other than a couple of little things that I've wanted to introduce throughout all levels of the playing staff - in terms of sports science and that kind of thing. Tony has taken that on board and I gain my interest and experience of that department from him.
If I have an opinion about a young player, I share it with Tony, but it's his advice that usually I steer with, and that is still working very, very well. I can report that we've got some fantastic talent coming through, and it's obviously in good hands.

What factors do you feel have influenced what, from the outside, appears to be the best team spirit the club has had for many years?
Jamie Walker

I think it stems from people you surround yourself with. I surround myself with strong characters, winners and people who I like to think have good, sensible morals. I include all my staff and players in that, and if I don't see it in an individual, then I get rid of that person.
I don't like people who drain my time and energy. If you've seen the Harry Potter films, we use the term 'dementors' - people who can draw the life out of you in terms of your energy. So we eradicate the dementors, encourage the positive people, and that spreads around to create the team spirit we have here.

Are you aware of the size of the transfer budget you will recieve in the summer?
Ricky Taylor

I don't think anyone will be surprised to know that the acquisition of Dean Ashton in January was partly funded by using some of next year's money, so we haven't got a massive pot for the summer as things stand at the moment.
However, we will have sufficient funds to improve the squad, and just one or two additions could make all the difference to this team. The nucleus of the squad is young, and they are all secured under long-term contracts. They are all hungry and determined to win a trophy, and we are going to be under good shape in the next couple of years if my additions can add to the team. For any manager, at any club, the most important job is recruiting.

With our Premiership future safe this year, what do you honestly think we will be a worthwhile goal to aim for next season?
Nilsson Jones

I'm not going to even talk about next season, simply because the chance for us is here and now. There is a chance to finish in a UEFA Cup spot via the league, obviously the chance of a trophy with the FA Cup, and we are determined to give it our best shot at both goals.
From where I am sitting right now, I think it will be a blow to us if we don't achieve one of those goals, and I will treat it as a big disappointment. We've already hit one goal this season - to stay in the Premiership. Now we have a chance of glory. In your career and in your life, you have to grasp your opportunity when it comes along, and that is why we are not thinking about next season yet.

If we were to qualify for the UEFA Cup, do you see there being a problem with the current squad coping with the extra demands of playing in another cup competition?
Danny Blanchette

That is a consideration for myself, and something that we will obviously discuss in the summer should the situation arise. Maybe we will have to add two or three more squad players to cover that scenario.
What is important, though, is the progression of the first team, and getting into the UEFA Cup would ensure that players are drawn towards us. We are a successful club, with good young players, and that makes it easier to recruit top players who want to play in Europe.

What do you believe the current squad of players need to add to their game to make us contenders in the top six of the Premiership?
Mark Johnson

I want our team to be full of pace, to have high energy, to play football faster than anyone else, and to constantly be on the front foot, forcing the opposition into errors and leading to opportunities for us to score goals. And my vision is also to have a little bit more control, especially away from home, in terms of possession.
So there are two scenarios really. One, to increase and improve what we are doing right now and, two, which we haven't quite mastered yet, is to have the experience to take the sting out of games and control possession, especially against the top clubs.
This year, we have had wins against, in my view, two of the top four clubs in the country - Arsenal and Bolton. If you look at some clubs who have been in the Premiership for longer than us, they haven't got any wins against the top sides, so we have already made some big strides in that sense.

We have a potentially a great young side, capable of winning things. How do you intend to keep them together?
Tom Putnam

Well, all of our young players are secured on long-term contracts and, on our part, we look at the squad and feel that there is real potential here. We like to think that, if they stay together, there will be trophies and European football on offer for them.
If one of our young players made it very clear he was adamant that he wanted to leave, then I've got to say I think it will be difficult for me, but I'm hoping to create such an environment here that they don't want to go.
That is what people misinterpret I think. Players have wanted to go in the past, perhaps because there has been a lack of ambition, a lack of success, but if they can see the opposite of that here now, they won't want to go anywhere.
That's what the challenge is - trying to build the belief and confidence before they start to think that we aren't going to win anything and want to go elsewhere. At the moment, they are all happy learning their trade here and, hopefully, we can win a trophy soon to increase their desire to stay here even further.

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