Alan Pardew is firm favourite for Newcastle job

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley was today continuing his efforts to land a new manager under a veil of secrecy.

Alan Pardew remained the hot favourite to replace the sacked Chris Hughton as discussions, which began in earnest yesterday, resumed with a view to an appointment by the end of the week.

Support for Pardew increased when it emerged that Martin Jol's resignation from his job at Ajax was purely coincidental with the Dutchman also being linked with former club Hamburg.

The former Reading, West Ham, Charlton and Southampton boss was being quoted as a 1/4 to land the job by Ladbrokes this morning with Alan Curbishley a distant second at 7/1 and former Chelsea number two Ray Wilkins the big mover at 8/1.

But what is clear is that whoever replaces Hughton will have to work under similar financial restrictions to those with which the former Republic of Ireland international had to deal during his time at the helm.

He was one of the lowest-paid managers in the Barclays Premier League and was told in the immediate aftermath of promotion from the Coca-Cola Championship last summer that there would be no additional capital outlay on new signings.

Hughton was able to recruit the likes of Ivory Coast international Cheik Tiote, defenders James Perch and Sol Campbell, Dan Gosling and loan signing Hatem Ben Arfa, but all on a budget.

His successor may fare a little better, but Ashley is determined to reach the stage where a club which was debt-ridden when he bought it is self-sufficient sooner rather than later, and the retention of its Barclays Premier League status is key to that process.

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