Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ashley Will Ask Questions Should Pardew Miss Target; Pressure on United Boss to Hit His Target

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ashley Will Ask Questions Should Pardew Miss Target; Pressure on United Boss to Hit His Target

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Douglas Chief sportswriter mark.douglas@ncjmedia.co.uk

ALAN Pardew is set for an uncomfortable end-of-season inquest with owner Mike Ashley if the club dip below the top-10 target that was handed to him as a minimum requirement of this campaign.

Pardew, who believes his relationship with Ashley was strengthened by his the owner's support during his touchline ban, has privately talked of his confidence that a summer recruitment drive will give him fresh impetus for next season, but it is understood that his role is coming under increased scrutiny as Newcastle's end-of-season form shows no signs of improving.

Falling below the top-10 target - which would see the club miss out on their scheduled bonus - would leave him vulnerable and facing questions from Ashley, who has held a series of meetings about possible summer recruits with the manager and other key officials in recent weeks.

The Newcastle owner has not given any indication to the manager that his job is under threat, but Pardew was carpeted earlier in the season for comments made in a Sky interview - and he admitted after the Swansea loss that failing to finish in the top 10 would be "damaging" for the club.

One thing is for certain - it will be a matter of urgency for Pardew and his coaching staff to tick that box as he heads into a huge summer.

However, the United manager knows he is up against it with Papiss Cisse confirmed as out for the rest of the season with a knee injury and Loic Remy's participation in the run-in also in doubt. Pardew has already hinted that his French internationals are reluctant to risk injury with the World Cup in Brazil so close, but that is no help to the manager and hardly placates supporters concerned about a lack of fight within the group.

Pardew's hope is that he can achieve a top-10 finish and get to an important summer in which he hopes to bring in younger, hungrier players while selling Hatem Ben Arfa, who has become a thorn in the manager's side. …

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