Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has suggested he may shed tears of joy if his side overcome Benfica and reach the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday night.
Pardew admitted he lost control of his emotions as he leapt into the crowd following Papiss Cisse’s winning goal against Fulham in the Premier League last Sunday, but that will be nothing compared to the reaction that may follow a famous win against the Portuguese giants.
Trailing 3-1 from the first leg in Lisbon last week, Pardew admits his side need to be at the very best to have any hope of claiming a last four spot in the competition.
But he is already imagining what emotions will overcome him if they pull off the comeback, suggesting he may follow in the footsteps of Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp, who cried with happiness following his side’s Champions League heroics against Malaga on Tuesday night.
“The Dortmund coach was in tears at the end of his game the other night and possibly I will be too if we overcome this Benfica team,” said Pardew. “My reaction after we scored against Fulham was not something I pre-planned and Moussa Sissoko asked me the next day whether I scored the winner!
“Maybe I should control my feelings, but you react like that when you achieve something special and it would be very special to beat this Benfica side because they have a lot of quality in their ranks.
“I feel we were a little bit unlucky in the first leg in Portugal and we should have got a better result. With our fans behind us and the belief we now have in this team, we feel we have a real chance.
“Our record of scoring goals in the final few minutes of games means that even if we need two goals in the closing stages, we feel as if we can do it.”
Pardew is calling on the St James’ Park crowd to act as Newcastle’s extra man as the squad prepare for European action and the Tyne/Wear derby against Sunderland over the next four days.
“Unless you are one of four or five biggest clubs in country, to get to the quarter-final is something special,” he stated. “This is where this club wants to be and my aim when I came here was to lift this club up there again.
“We could have a very special week at Newcastle as the Sunderland game is just three days away, so we have to do all we can to make it happen. Our fans rise to occasions like this like no other and after helping us to beat Fulham last Sunday, we will need them again in these two games.”
Hatem Ben Arfa has made what Pardew describes as an ‘unbelievable’ return to fitness from a hamstring injury that looked set to keep him out for the rest of the season, with the Frenchman likely to play a cameo role in the Benfica game.
Skipper Fabricio Coloccini, Cheick Tiote and Mathieu Debuchy are also edging closer to full fitness, though Steven Taylor is a doubt after he picked up an injury in training on Wednesday.