Alan Pardew dismisses Newcastle takeover talk
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has dismissed the constant stream of speculation surrounding the club to concentrate on the task of securing its Barclays Premier League status.
During his short spell on Tyneside to date, Pardew has quickly learnt the Magpies are rarely not a topic of conversation for one reason or another.
The last week alone has seen the club linked with a Indian takeover and a growing list of potential summer transfer targets with onlookers waiting to see just what owner Mike Ashley's intentions are.
Newcastle continue to insist the business is no longer for sale, and point to the investment they have made in securing the long-term futures of the likes of midfielder Cheick Tiote, Steven Taylor, Mike Williamson and Nile Ranger in recent months as evidence of their strategy for lasting success.
Pardew and his scouting team, armed with what they hope will be the lion's share of the proceeds of Andy Carroll's £35million departure for Liverpool, have already started to identify the men they believe can take the club forward, and the manager is ignoring talk of a change of ownership.
He said: "We have dismissed that quite thoroughly, I don't expect that to raise its head again.
"Mike has made a commitment with these long-term contracts that he wants to see a plan going forward, and that's what we will try to carry out."
The first step in the process, of course, is ensuring the Magpies are still playing their football in the top flight next season, something which looked a racing certainty when a 2-0 victory at Birmingham on February 15 put them eight points clear of the drop zone.
However, a return of just one point from home clashes with Bolton and Everton has seen that gap reduced to just five points, and they head for Stoke tomorrow knowing the fight is far from over.
Pardew said: "Unfortunately, we haven't got the cup to distract us - there are only four teams in the Premier League who have that left.
"We are in the same boat as everyone else and we have to concentrate now to see ourselves to a strong finish, and that's what we are going to try to do."
Newcastle's plans have been disrupted by an injury to key midfielder Joey Barton, whose absence against Bolton and Everton was conspicuous to say the least.
The 28-year-old has a chance of returning from a thigh strain at the Britannia Stadium, but Pardew will not risk him if he is not 100% fit.
He has a headache too at left back with Jose Enrique rated as very doubtful because of a hamstring problem and possible emergency replacement Jonas Gutierrez also struggling with a similar injury.
Pardew may have to be inventive in his selection, particularly at the back where Stoke's robust style may mean it is not the fixture in which to blood budding left-back Shane Ferguson.
He said: "Stoke have found some great form and the job [manager] Tony [Pulis] has done there and the way they play make it very, very difficult for you.
"The pitch is small, so their set-plays become more accurate, and of course that's something you have to cope with.
"We will make sure their strengths we can handle and we can play our own game and not be distracted from that.
"We are hoping our team is strong enough and that the ref is strong too.
"When you have that many set-plays and there are people bundling into each other, he has got to be strong, he has got to make the right decisions.
"It will be the same at the other end as well because although Stoke are very good at set-plays, so are we. A big percentage of our game is set-plays and if I was Tony, I would be concentrating on that as much as his own."
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