Pards Positive

Alan Pardew is positive that, despite injury and ineligibility restricting his selection options ahead of the trip to Chelsea, he still has a squad capable of putting in a good display.

"We are a few bodies short which is a bit of a shame but hopefully we can massage a few legs and bring a couple more back to us," he says.

"We have some senior players that are going to be very important to us and it will be nice to see Tomas, who has been excellent this season - our best player - against some top class internationals.

"Hopefully Nigel will be fit because he will want to put himself in there and show his talent, and Steve Lomas will be the one who will lead us - his experience will be invaluable.

"Rufus will play on the left and he has plenty of experience as well - and you need those kind of players at this level.

"We make no bones about the fact that we have changed a lot in a year but we have got some very good players and we come into this game with young guys in the team that want to put themselves up against the best.

"We have to approach this game as a London derby and be committed to what it is - and make sure we try and win the game, which is what we will try and do.

"It is one you want to play in as a player - there is no fear in it for us."

Alan is emphasising that positive attitude and adds:

"We are not going into this game to restrict the score or keep it tight - we want to win.

"There is obviously more than one way to skin a cat and we will work hard and make sure we are organised at all the things they might throw at us.

"We have done our homework on them and, though we are not exactly sure what team they will play, we know roughly what system they will employ."

Alan insists that the Chelsea game is not a distraction from the league programme and he adds:

"For all managers the next game is your most important one - and that is the truth.

"After Chelsea, Plymouth will be our next most important game so that is how we are dealing with it; we didn't mention Chelsea up to yesterday.

"There was excitement at the draw and we are looking forward to it - and the mood has been good because we got the six points we desperately needed after the QPR game."

Alan points to last season's cup encounters against top flight sides in both cups as presenting positive signs - despite narrow defeats.

"We acquitted ourselves very well at Tottenham and perhaps should have got something," insists Alan.

"We certainly felt we should have beaten Fulham, but for a few refereeing decisions - which, as we all know from the weekend, can change games."

Alan is a confirmed admirer of Jose Mourinho and he says:

"He has had a great start to his Premiership campaign and we look at them as a standard bearer for the country - and we want to put ourselves up against them.

"There is no magic ingredient but I admire his philosophies; he wants to play the game in the right manner and I do like him."

Alan has never met Jose and admits there will hardly be time for a cosy chat on Wednesday, either.

"I don't suppose we will have too much to say because we will be focused on our teams; it will be a brief hello," says Alan.

"He makes me smile, actually; I quite like the way he is and perhaps the media haven't seen the other side of him in terms of the respect he gives his players and what he is like around the training ground.

"I happen to know a bit about that because he has employed my old youth team coach, Brendan Rogers, to look after his junior players; I have spoken to him and some of the things he has come back with have impressed me greatly.

"That is the sign of a good man - Jose is employing good people and I am pleased about that."

As a more general point, however, Alan has a slight worry about there being too managers from abroad and he explains:

"It is a concern because big jobs are coming up and although the odd English name is mentioned up they are not getting them - which is a worrying trend because there are some good managers.

"Alan Curbishley and Sam Allardyce are doing good things for example and there are young managers who have gone through the UEFA 'Pro' licence and know the culture of English players - and are perhaps getting less and less chance of reaching the Premiership.

"Maybe the only route in is to get promoted out of the Championship and that is a worry - as is our standing in the football world as coaches and managers.

"That is something hopefully that can be changed in the next three or four years; perhaps one of the big clubs will take an English manager on or maybe Steve McClaren or someone will do well in Europe and we can start being looked at again.

"I feel that although Sven is doing a fantastic job for England it doesn't go well for us that we have a foreign manager - I have always said that.

"The game changes very quickly, though, as we all know, but at the moment we have got the biggest market in the world and we can attract the best people.

"And let's be honest - most of those foreign managers that have come in are doing a good job."

Alan places Chelsea as one of a trio of sides in the Premiership who are competing for the top prize and he adds:

"I think it is fair to say Chelsea are on a different level to most of the other Premiership sides.

"There are three teams in this division who, let's be honest, have crept away from everybody else with the Champions' League money, because that is what it is all about.

"We suffered relegation and the cost of that in terms of our best players having to leave - as all clubs have done that have fallen out of the Premiership.

"If you ask the bottom 10 clubs in the Premiership what they worry about it is the financial cost of relegation - it is just so difficult to manage.

"Chelsea have gone to a new level with the money of Abramovich so it is a big gulf - but we have to put that to the back of our minds and see this game as 11 jerseys against us, and that is how we will focus on the game.

"There are tests for a few of the players in terms of putting themselves up against the very best and that is good.

"When I was a player I always liked to play against the big names - it was a challenge, and I think that is how you have to approach it."

Chelsea have a 24-man squad available for the game and Alan adds:

"I think they are all fantastic players and with the funds they have they can take great players to Chelsea; Lampard, in particular, has been the best English player for the last nine months or so in the Premier League and I enjoy watching him play - he is a terrific player.

"But from our side we just have to focus on what we are about; we know a lot of our fans are going and we want to make sure we give a good account of ourselves.

"I hope the fans take the game in good humour - and good voice - because there has been some rivalry in the past and I hope they come away from the game proud of us.

"We will try to the last knockings to get the right result."