Patrick Vieira makes surprise Newcastle United admission

Patrick Vieira backed Newcastle United to challenge for European football this season – after making an admission about St James’s Park.

And Vieira – who felt that referee Michael Salisbury was right to disallow an own goal from his team – was asked if the team is now a “different proposition” following the takeover of the club, and appointment of Eddie Howe as head coach, late last year.

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“Yes, of course. When you look at what they spent, the ambition, it’s going to be challenging for other teams coming here to get something,” said Palace’s head coach.

"They’re a really strong side, and I think this is one of the teams you can count on (to challenge for) European football.”

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Asked why, Vieira added: “When you look at the quality they have, the investment. They have a quality manager, and I believe that they will be one of the teams that will be close to Europe.”

Only Manchester City and Liverpool have won at St James’s Park since Howe took charge last November, and this doesn’t surprise Vieira, who says the stadium was one of his "favourite grounds” as a player.

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Crystal Palace head coach Patrick Vieira.

The former Arsenal midfielder said: “This is one of my favourite grounds, to be honest with you.

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"The atmosphere, I think, is one of the best in the country, and that’s why they are so strong at home. There is passion, there is love. Any teams other teams coming here will find it tough.”