Alan Pardew believes Newcastle United must be “shrewder” in the transfer market this summer and he feels Mike Ashley is ready and willing to take a lead role.
While today’s match at Stoke City could go a long way towards deciding whether the Magpies finish the Premier League season in ninth or their minimum target of tenth, in reality June, July and August will be more important to the club’s long-term direction than the last knockings of a campaign which promised much but failed to deliver.
Newcastle effectively acknowledged as much by reorganising their leadership to hit the ground running once the summer transfer window opens.
Lee Charnley has been promoted from secretary to managing- director, while Ashley has for the first time officially taken a seat on the board.
While transfer policy will be overseen by the same group of those two, plus manager Pardew and chief scout Graham Carr, their tweaked roles and the loss of director of football Joe Kinnear points to a different dynamic.
The role of Ashley – not seen at a game through the winter but a regular since Pardew was banned from the touchline last month – will be most interesting.
Pardew said: “I think it means he’s taking a closer hold of the club, maybe, and I think that’s a good thing.
“He’s been at the games, he’s seen for good or bad what we are at the moment.
“I think he has a good knowledge of football and good experience now. You have to say he’s an experienced owner.
“I’d like to think in the summer we can make the right decisions. “We need to get results in the bag before we even talk about that.
“I don’t want to distract from what our fans want to hear really, which is about what happens today.”
Charnley’s promotion was announced with an extremely long statement on the club’s website which seemed to suggest very little would change. That appears to be Pardew’s expectation.
He added: “Lee has been in and around our transfers and had good experience of working with Graham and myself and the needs of the club – the agenda set and the needs of the first team.
“Sometimes, like with all transfer conversations, there are certain conflicts about positions and conflicts about certain types of player and it’s very important the chief executive (or managing director as Charnley is) makes those calls right.
“Some might favour the younger player – maybe for the future of the club, not the immediate use of the manager – but the immediate problems for the manager is the priority and he understands that. I think he gets that right.”
The challenge facing Newcastle is that, despite having the third highest attendances in the country, they are not competing on a level playing field.
Pardew explained it was “because of the huge investment they (the leading clubs) have had – it’s now coming through on the youth side and through their academies.
“You look at Man City what’s underneath, you look at Chelsea what’s underneath – they have something like 27 players on loan. That’s bigger than my squad!”
Uefa are trying to make competition more even through their Financial Fair Play initiative, which will restrict the ability of clubs to spend more than they earn. Yet, as Pardew argues, the top clubs have spent their money more wisely than that.
He added: “All that investment now is starting to impact on those teams and the teams below have not had that financial push.
“They’ve had it for six, seven, eight years, Chelsea ten or so.
“It’s a worry, particularly for a club like this – how do we get to the next level? How do we impact on them? That’s a big question for us in the summer.
“We have to be even shrewder in our transfer recruitment. We have to be clever with how we utilise players.
“The size of our squad has to be almost detailed right to the last full stop because three or four players this year have been over-used and I think that has been a concern for us. That’s something else we need to put into the mix for the summer.”