Pardew steers clear of West Ham takeover talks

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The Independent Football

West Ham's beleaguered manager Alan Pardew admitted yesterday that he had spoken recently to the Iranian businessman Kia Joorabchian, who is fronting a consortium seeking to take over the club. But as the third of the proposed deadlines for the bid passed without significant activity - and amid growing concerns within the club over its chances of success - Pardew insisted their only conversation had been about the two Argentine internationals, Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, whom Joorabchian recently brought to the club.

"I have seen Kia with regards to the two players as I would with any agent who controls players," said Pardew after overseeing training for tomorrow's home Premiership game against Arsenal. "I have touched base with him about Tevez because he has been injured and Mascherano who is not in the team at the moment but performing very well in training and in the reserve game he played.

"I have touched base with him on those issues but haven't spoken to him about the takeover. I didn't think it was appropriate to be honest." Tevez - whom Pardew denied had been the subject of any subsequent bids from other clubs - is back in the squad following a knee injury but is unlikely to start and Mascherano has been omitted anyway for recent matches.

Asked about yesterday's latest deadline for the takeover bid, Pardew's immediate response was : "When's that then? As far as I am concerned I have no knowledge of a deadline and no knowledge of whether it has happened or not." The latest indication was that the deadline would be shifted until the middle of next week as the consortium, headed by Israeli property magnate Eli Papoushado, attempted to resolve continuing wrangles over matters including outstanding liabilities and bonus payments.

Pardew, who watched Arsenal's midweek draw against CSKA Moscow, was hugely complimentary about both the team and its manager, Arsène Wenger, with whom he fell out last season after voicing his disappointment that they were heading for the Champions' League final without a single Englishman in their team.

Wenger's response was to suggest there were racist undertones to such thinking, and the two have not spoken since.

Pardew insisted, however, that he had no problem with Arsenal's policy. "I think they are a fantastic club, and Arsène will be the first person I will shake hands with on Sunday. During my time as Reading manager I visited him two or three times and he was very accommodating to me so I would like to think I've got a good relationship with him, but we haven't actually seen each other since saying that."

Pardew, who did not rule out bringing either of his new Argentines into tomorrow's match, dismissed the suggestion that he had not supported Arsenal in their final against Barcelona. "Absolute rubbish," he said. "Of course I supported them."

West Ham beat Arsenal at Highbury last season, but given their recent run of eight defeats - halted only by last Sunday's win over Blackburn - they would almost certainly settle for a repeat of last season's result between the two teams at Upton Park, a goalless draw.

"There have been a few more smiles around the training ground as you would expect after a win and certainly a bit of buoyancy has returned," Pardew said. 'That's what a win can do.

"It is also because of the opposition and the feeling that it is a big challenge for us - one they are relishing rather than fearing."