Alan Pardew admits that he does not know what to expect when his Newcastle United side face Tottenham on Saturday.
It has been a summer of upheaval at White Hart Lane, with manager Harry Redknapp being replaced by Andre Villas-Boas and Luka Modric’s protracted move to Real Madrid reportedly stalling the expected arrival of striker Emmanuel Adebayor back to the club on a permanent basis.
Newcastle suffered a heavy 5-0 defeat last time they faced Tottenham, and Pardew, despite believing the side are ‘slightly different’ this time around, has lamented the ‘mystery’ when it comes to pre-match preparations.
“They are a little bit different to last year because their style is slightly different, and obviously in terms of the personnel,” Pardew said.
“It is a bit of a mystery really what the team is going to be, so we are kind of guessing what we think it is and we’ll work towards that.
“But I still think they will have a good season – they have great players and a great manager. It is a tough game for us.”
Villas-Boas was brought in as Redknapp’s replacement at the beginning of July, despite a torrid time at Chelsea before his sacking in February.
And Pardew has backed the former Porto boss to recreate his success from Portugal and guide Tottenham to a strong season.
“I think he will do well because he is a great manager,” Pardew said.
“I think this time around, he’ll prove a lot of people wrong and I hope so as well, because I think he’s a really top guy and has great plans there.
“Put those things together, and they should have a real strong season.”
Newcastle enjoyed a strong campaign last term as they were in the hunt for a Champions League place on the final day – in the end settling for a spot in the Europa League.
And though the boss has admitted that the added pressures of European football could have an adverse effect, he is very much keen to improve on their fifth-placed finish last season.
“It is going to very much be about how we progress in the Europa League – we still have to qualify, so we’ll get through those two games and then we’ll have to look at the matches and how we are going to schedule them,” Pardew said.
“Without a doubt, I can tell you now that the Premier League is going to come first for sure, and we want to try to push from where we were last year, push those Champions League teams.
“We were the closest to them and we are going to try to narrow that gap if we can.”