Pardew: Fergie simply too good

The 70-year-old Manchester United manager will take the reigning

Premier League champions to Tyneside on Wednesday night having seen

arch-rivals Manchester City fail to take advantage of their slip-up

against Blackburn on New Year’s Eve by losing at Sunderland the

following day. Pardew and his players are determined to send them

packing as they attempt to bounce back from defeat at Liverpool to

keep pace with the top six. However, Pardew insists aspiring to

match Ferguson is a task too far. Asked if the Scot is the

benchmark for all other managers, he said: “He isn’t really because

he’s just ridiculous. “Something like 50 trophies – you just can’t

possibly imagine getting yourself into a position to win that many.

“But in the terms of the way he handles his club and the way he

runs his club, he is a bit more fortunate than a lot of us because

he has a lot of power there and he has earned that power. “That’s

what we all aim to do.” Ferguson’s longevity has given him an iron

grip on his club, a fact he demonstrated on Saturday when he left

England striker Wayne Rooney out of the side following a Boxing Day

night out. But it is behind the scenes at Old Trafford where he

wields an influence of which most of his counterparts can only

dream. Pardew said: “As a manager, that’s a decision [the Rooney

decision] I would have to make, I can make those sort of decisions.

“It’s bigger decisions – transfers, the way the club plays, the

emphasis on what the style of the club is going to be and being

able to dictate that rather than having a general manager or a

director who wants to influence that. “I’m lucky here in that I

have got a bit of a free hand. I have got no general football

manager here. “I haven’t earned the power that Alex has got, of

course, yet, but I am one of the few lucky ones.” Rooney, who is

understood to have been fined for incurring his manager’s wrath, is

expected to return to the starting line-up, and he could be joined

by Rio Ferdinand and Chris Smalling as United attempt to bounce

back from their shock 3-2 home defeat by Blackburn. Asked about the

Rooney situation, Pardew said with a smile: “I don’t think it’s

going to last for our game. “Those scenarios happen on the training

ground and managers stand by their decisions. “They have had

injuries, for sure, but I am well informed that there will be a few

back for this game, and I am not surprised by that. “Alex knows

it’s a tough game, coming to Newcastle, so I expect to see a few of

the more famous names on that sheet. “But when you look at their

squad, they have still got the biggest and best squad in the

division, and that’s why they are the champions.” Pardew has a

minor doubt over former United midfielder Gabriel Obertan, who has

an infected toe, but is expected to make the squad. Meanwhile, the

Magpies boss signalled his intention to keep his January

recruitment plans to himself amid speculation that West Ham

defender James Tomkins could be among his targets, while rumours of

a return to the north east for Andy Carroll refuse to go away.

Pardew said: “For us, it’s like all clubs and managers, we have to

be very careful how we negotiate and discuss things, so on the

media side, we are not going to say much at all in this window – I

will apologise to you now for that. “We will keep our cards close

to our chest, but obviously, we are out there looking at the