Pardew blasts Trap over Best
NEWCASTLE UNITED boss Alan Pardew has challenged Giovanni Trapattoni to come and watch his Irish striker Leon Best in the flesh.
Best has earned huge praise from Pardew for this form with the Magpies this season and the former Lourdes Celtic man ended a four-month goal drought last week when he scored United's winner against QPR.
But Best, 25, has been frozen out at international level, winning the last of his seven senior caps almost two years ago against Brazil.
Trap recently explained his decision to omit Best by criticising the player's work-rate, but Pardew does not accept that.
"I still don't know where he (Trapattoni) gets that from," Pardew said.
"Perhaps he should come up here and see him play. How many times has he been up here to see him. Never? Well come if he wants to see the guy. I can tell him, and show him the stats. And come and watch us play. We are at Fulham on Saturday, 3pm!"
Parde, meanwhile, has challenged his players to keep themselves in the hunt for a top-six finish after making a major move in the transfer market.
This week's capture of Senegal international striker Papiss Demba Cisse, a deal which is understood to have cost the Magpies close to £10 million, represented a statement of intent by owner Mike Ashley with the club sitting in sixth place in the table.
Pardew admitted earlier in the campaign that expecting his side to maintain their fine start over the course of the season was unrealistic because of the gulf in finances between them and the leading clubs.
However, while Cisse's influence will not be brought to bear until he returns from the African Nations Cup along with key men Demba Ba and Cheick Tiote, the manager insists Newcastle will give it everything they have got to upset the established order.
He said: "The more it goes and the closer it gets to the end. I have said all along, that last six games, if we can find ourselves in with a shout, there might be less pressure on us, so we could make an impact.
"We are, after 21 games, the sixth best team, and that's what we can try to improve on. It would be an absolute marvel if we finished sixth or fifth, but we are going to try, and see where it takes us."
Last weekend's hard-fought 1-0 win over QPR eased Pardew's man above big-spending Liverpool and left them level on points with fifth-placed Arsenal, two clubs who have spent much of the Premier League era battling it out for honours.
Asked if they are long-term targets for the Magpies, Pardew said: "Forget about long term, this season, they are in our sights, as much as we are in the sights of Aston Villa and Everton, who are not that far behind.
"You have constantly got to be on your guard, but you can't afford not to dream and aim for higher, otherwise where you fall is going to be considerably lower. We are aiming for them and we will see where we go. We are trying to compete against teams who are way above us financially - and I am not talking about Manchester United, I am talking about Liverpool.