Newcastle boss Alan Pardew yesterday hit back at Andy Carroll's claims that he was forced out of the club by saying that the £35m striker threatened to leave unless he was given a new contract, but failed to explain why Newcastle had not acquiesced.
As the fallout from the sale of the 22-year-old to Liverpool became increasingly bitter, Pardew described Carroll's claims that he was betrayed by his boyhood club as "slightly misguided" and pinned the responsibility for the transfer on the player.
Key to the latest exchanges was Pardew's assertion that Carroll told him on Monday that if Newcastle did not agree to give him a new contract -- to replace the deal he agreed in October -- then he wanted permission to speak to Liverpool.
Sources close to the player have indicated that Newcastle had the opportunity to improve his £25,000-a-week salary after Carroll's England debut in November and would have satisfied the player with a raise to the relatively modest £40,000-a-week.
Yesterday, Pardew sought to portray Carroll as the prime mover in the deal that made him the most expensive British player of all time.
Carroll said yesterday that he was "forced" into handing in a transfer request by the club. He said: "I was pushed into a corner and had no choice. I wasn't wanted by them and they made it clear they wanted the money."
Caught in the middle of a bitter public relations battle, Pardew put his credibility on the line by claiming that Ashley had assured him the entire £35m would be made available to him in the summer for transfer fees and wages.
Asked why the club had not simply given Carroll a new deal, Pardew said: "It doesn't make sense. If I gave Andy a new contract tomorrow where does that leave me with all the rest of the players? And what would that figure be? I asked him what that figure should be (on Monday) and I said, 'What do you want?' and he wouldn't give me an answer. That more or less said to me the answer itself.
"We haven't forced him out. We asked him to clarify what he wanted to do. He wanted a new contract now or he would give us a written request. We then made the decision to accept this huge, huge offer. He got on the helicopter -- nobody forced him to go. He had a five-year contract here."
With his side facing Fulham tonight, Pardew admitted to being "disappointed" and "frustrated" at the loss of his most celebrated player. "It does not feel good," he said. "The players feel the same, and of course the fans too. Their big icon has left the club."
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