Alan Pardew is aware that relegation to the Championship could end his time in charge at Newcastle United.
The Newcastle manager is facing an end-of-season review after the disastrous run that has pushed the club into the heart of a fight for Premier League survival.
Pardew signed a new, eight-year deal on 27 September last year that appeared to make his position at St James' Park impregnable. However, Newcastle, who were 10th in the table when the contract was announced and had finished fifth the previous season, are now just outside the relegation zone.
Pardew was installed as the bookmakers' favourite for the next Premier League sacking after the 6-0 capitulation at home to Liverpool on Saturday, which followed the 3-0 loss at home to rivals Sunderland in the previous game at St James'.
Several managers were yesterday linked with Newcastle, including Rafael Benitez, Steve McClaren and the Birmingham manager, Lee Clark. Newcastle sources were keen to distance the names from Pardew's position, and it appears at this stage that he will be given a full chance to secure Premier League football, despite the club's owner, Mike Ashley, being unhappy with what has become a dire season.
Beyond that, however, there is now huge uncertainty over Pardew's future. The 51-year-old has blamed the demands of the Europa League and injuries for the disastrous campaign that has followed the previous year's success, when he won two management awards.
There is the increasing possibility that Newcastle's remaining games could be the final three of Pardew's reign if they do not fight off relegation. The club invested heavily in new talent in January to try to stave off dropping into the Championship for the second time in five seasons.
Five French players moved to St James' during a hectic month in which Newcastle spent £31m on transfers fees and player recruitment. The new television deal means this season, even more than most, will be a disastrous one to drop out of the Premier League. It is reckoned each club will earn an additional £30m from the contract.
Newcastle travel to West Ham and already relegated Queen's Park Rangers in their next two fixtures, before hosting Arsenal in their final game.
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