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Manager dedicates season to fans

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has dedicated the forthcoming Premier League season to John Alder and Liam Sweeney, who died on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17

Alan Pardew, Newcastle United manager
Alan Pardew Credit: PA pictures

Mr Alder and Mr Sweeney were killed when the flight came down in eastern Ukraine last week as they travelled to watch their team play in New Zealand.

He said: "None of us would be sitting here without the fans.

"Owners and managers come and go, as do players, but the fans are always there, and these two guys in particular, to go to the lengths that they did to get out here, has brought home just how important supporters are to us.

"Sometimes when you lose lives in that manner, it puts into context what we do.

"This season we want to give their families something to remember them by, by having a successful season."

Pardew also thanked the Sunderland fans who put their usual rivalry to one side and have now raised more than £23,000 in tribute to Mr Sweeney and Mr Alder.

"A lot is made of the rivalry between the two cities, and of course that is there," he said.

"But I would like to thank all the Sunderland fans who have paid tribute and helped raise a staggering amount already.

"I am very proud of Sunderland Football Club for the way they have conducted themselves and I want to thank them."

Newcastle face Sydney FC on Tuesday in their opening fixture in the southern hemisphere, and Pardew has vowed to play a strong team to help honour the two fans.

He said: "It's important we represent ourselves in the right manner, especially after losing John and Liam - our supporters who were travelling out here.

"We have to conduct ourselves well on and off the pitch and get some strong results.

"That is what they would have wanted and that is what we want, so in memory of those guys in particular, we want this to be a successful tour.

"We have to honour these guys in the right manner because it does mean a lot to us. Their tragic loss has hurt the group.

"On Tuesday, I will be playing a very strong side. That is only right and fair in light of what's happened."

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