Alan Pardew free to focus on summer plans following meeting with Newcastle hierarchy

The Magpies underachieved this season

Alan Pardew was today contemplating his preparations for the new season after holding talks with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley.

The pair, along with managing director Derek Llambias, met up yesterday to talk through the failings of the last campaign and to discuss the way forward.

But insiders insist the nature of the talks was far from "showdown or "clear the air" amid rumours that Pardew could be shown the door after a season of under-achievement by his side.

Despite the increasing disquiet among fans as a difficult campaign drew to a close, there has been no appetite to dispense with the services of the 51-year-old manager, who signed an eight-year contract in September last year, even though the terms of the deal mean it would not have to be paid up in full should the signatories part company prematurely.

In the event, Pardew emerged from the meeting still in post and charged with the task of masterminding a significant improvement for a club which scaled improbable heights under his charge in 2011-12, but misfired alarmingly 12 months later.

There is an acceptance by all parties that the squad with which Newcastle went into battle at the start of the last campaign was inadequate for purpose with the demands of the Europa League - something with which they will not have to contend this time around - and injuries cruelly exposing its lack of depth.

It will be depleted further at the end of the next month when veteran keeper Steve Harper and full-back Danny Simpson leave the club when their contracts expire, and while Pardew is desperate to retain the services of skipper Fabricio Coloccini, his continued presence is by no means certain four months after he asked to be allowed to return to his native Argentina for personal reasons.

In addition, the club's failure to replace frontman Demba Ba in either a pre-emptive strike or following his January departure for Chelsea is yet to be addressed.

It emerged after yesterday's meeting that Andy Carroll will not be a long-term solution to that particular problem despite Pardew's repeated admissions that he would like to bring him back to St James' Park given the opportunity.

However, given the club's hard and fast recruitment policy, that news should perhaps come as little surprise.

While at 24, Carroll fits the age profile perfectly, the fee - West Ham have reportedly agreed a £15million deal with Liverpool - is in excess of anything Ashley has sanctioned during his reign to date and even a significant reduction on his current wage packet would smash the club's pay structure.

There is an understandable attraction to re-signing a man the Magpies sold to the Reds for £35million two and a half years ago, but unless something changes radically, that is now unlikely to happen.

Instead, chief scout Graham Carr will concentrate his efforts on identifying the best young talent on the continent with Belgium and Holland, as well as France, understood to be among his hunting grounds this summer.

Pardew will also be on his guard once again amid speculation that some of his bigger names could be vulnerable to attack from clubs who could offer them Champions League football, lucrative deals or both.

PA

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