• Newcastle struggled last season when in Europa League
• Fifth-placed Spurs travel to Newcastle on Wednesday
Alan Pardew believes that Tottenham Hotspur's involvement in the Europa League led to Andre Villas-Boas's downfall at White Hart Lane, and that qualifying for the tournament can only prove detrimental to a club's Premier League form.
Newcastle United entertain Spurs at St James' Park on Wednesday night, with the visitors now managed by Tim Sherwood following the sacking of Villas-Boas in December, despite the Portuguese coach steering Tottenham to a fifth-placed finish in his first season at the club. The managers of the other Europa League qualifiers from last year, Swansea City's Michael Laudrup and Wigan Athletic's Owen Coyle, have also been sacked this season.
"I have sympathy for André," said a man who nearly lost his job at Newcastle after the strain of Europa League commitments precipitated a relegation dalliance last spring. "It's not surprising that the managers of teams in the Europa League from the Premier League and the Championship have all got sacked this season.
"I don't think that playing in the Premier League on the Sunday after the Thursday night in Europe you can get to the required level. I've been saying that ever since Stoke warned me about it when we went in it."
Tottenham are in fifth place again as they head to Newcastle, who are three places and 10 points behind, but despite a number of absences Pardew is targeting victory on Wednesday night.
"We're certainly not looking to limp through this, we're looking to win and whatever team I put out there we'd have to look to win it," he said. "I'm not hiding behind the fact that we have a load of injuries."
He will again be relying on the versatility of Davide Santon, who was once dubbed "the new Paolo Mandini" but Pardew has given his Italy international a new label. "Santon could be, in my opinion, the Phil Neville of this football club, a kind of unsung hero like Phil was at Manchester United," said Newcastle's manager. "When they won trophies Phil was very important."
Although Santon has largely operated at left-back since arriving from Internazionale in the summer of 2011, he can also play at right-back and impressed in a new holding midfield role against Chelsea last Saturday.
He is expected to continue in that position on Wednesday night. "The important thing is that Davide has got a long-term future at this club because he's still young and gaining experience," said Pardew. "He can play both full-back positions and now he has shown he can play central midfield so you are looking at one very important player."
Luuk de Jong hopes to become a similarly integral part of Pardew's long term gameplan but Newcastle's manager will take his time before deciding whether to activate an option to sign the Holland striker in the summer when his loan from Borussia Monchengladbach ends.
So far, however, the signs are promising from a player still regaining match fitness after struggling to get games in the Bundesliga. "He's settled in very well," said Newcastle's manager. "He knows Tim Krul very well and they look like brothers at times. I'm pleased with him. If we get the best out of the team around him we'll get the best out of Luuk."