Alan Pardew feels that Mike Ashley’s public return to St James’ Park “bodes well” for the club’s impending summer rebuild.
As revealed in The Journal, Ashley has given the green light for the club to undertake a major recruitment drive in the close season after a year of frustration and disappointment in the transfer market.
That decision has coincided with Ashley returning to the ground for the first time since September. He watched Saturday’s 1-0 defeat of Crystal Palace and Pardew confirmed that he will be present once again tonight as Newcastle take on an Everton team gunning for the Europa League.
It is an intriguing development, especially as the manager appeared to be under some pressure in February. That has dissipated, however, with Ashley satisfied that the Newcastle boss has fulfiled his pre-season objective of a top-10 finish.
Indeed, Pardew feels that the owner has signalled his support for him by being present at the three Newcastle games which he has been banned from the touchline for. “He will be at the game and that means he has been to the three that I have missed so obviously for me it has been great that he has shown that support,” admitted Pardew.
“It is important that in my absence he did that and I thought it was great that he did do that.
“I don’t want to say what was said in private discussions but it is the fact he has been to the three games that I have missed. In terms of the club, that bodes well because he knows in the summer, we have a bit of work to do.”
Pardew confirmed that he will be pressing the club to look at Romelu Lukaku again this summer. The Belgium striker is on loan at Goodison Park from Chelsea, and Pardew had wanted Newcastle to make a move last summer.
The United boss said: “I think he is a player a lot of clubs will be looking at in the summer. I don’t think Everton will get a free run at him.
“At the moment, it is a bit like we are with Loic (Remy). It is a situation that Everton would love to keep him, as we would with Loic, and those questions are really out of Everton’s and our control. We have to be wary of his power and presence but none more so than normal. At Everton this season, we probably had one of our worst first-half displays but we have not had many of them this year.
“Defensively, we have been pretty sound and that is why we have had the results we have had with the goals we have scored. By keeping the scoreline down, we have given ourselves a chance in games. We are going to have to defend very well.”
Meanwhile, Pardew said he is “not worried” about captain Fabricio Coloccini’s future. He says the skipper is likely to stay, even with an anticipated turnover of players.
“I have not had that conversation (about his future) with Colo for a while really or about prolonging his contract,” Pardew said.
“It has another two years left. I am not really worried about it at this stage but obviously it is a conversation that I will have with Colo, we will pick the right decision for the club.
“What might be right for him might not be right for the club but I am hoping we both make the same decision because I want him to stay.
“I think he is an essential part of this team. He is one of my most important players. I don’t see anything to give me cause for alarm. His mentality for the game will never change. He is quite calm. He enters the game to be the best player and most of the time, he is.”
Meanwhile, Andre Marriner has been confirmed as referee for Newcastle’s trip to Southampton.