Magpies eye Moyes as Pardew faces battle to save job
Alan Pardew will have to explain to Mike Ashley, the Newcastle United owner, why he deserves to keep his job as manager at the club for the second time in 12 months, with David Moyes, the deposed Manchester United manager, and Hull City's Steve Bruce in the frame to replace him.
Pardew will have his future as manager determined at an end-of-season meeting with Ashley, having been spared the sack last summer after the team finished fifth from bottom in the Premier League.
Although the meeting is scheduled, Ashley will demand to know why Newcastle's players have apparently struggled for motivation, as well as points, in recent weeks.
Sources close to Ashley have indicated that he is alarmed by Newcastle's dire form in 2014, and while he has met Pardew to discuss summer recruitment plans he has offered no assurance that his job is safe. Newcastle have lost 13 out of 18 games in 2014 and Pardew will be sacked if he fails to secure a top-10 finish. That was the objective given to him in August.
Ashley is known to admire Bruce, who previously discussed taking over at Newcastle when he was at Wigan Athletic in 2008, and Moyes, who had more than a decade of relative success on a tight budget at Everton. Newcastle tried to appoint Moyes when Kevin Keegan resigned in 2008 and again before they turned to Pardew in 2010, but they could not persuade him to leave Everton.
Both Bruce and Moyes are likely to be interested in the Newcastle job, but it remains to be seen whether Ashley is not only willing to fire Pardew, but also give them the sort of assurances they will need regarding transfer budgets.
Bruce would appear to be the more likely fit. He has made no secret of his desire to manage his hometown club and has, arguably, already taken Hull as far as he can.
Moyes may be harder to tempt as he does not have the same emotional attachment to the region. The Scot may also want a break after his mauling at Old Trafford.
Pardew deserves some sympathy. He has been unable to sign a player since January 2013 and was forced to sell playmaker Yohan Cabaye in January. That has prompted Shola Ameobi, whose contract expires in June, to speak out at Ashley.
"We have limited resources at the moment and when we lose one or two key players it hurts the team badly," the Nigeria striker told BBC Newcastle. "That is what the manager has had to put up with, unfortunately.
"But that is something the club have to put right for next season. We need quality players and we need a quality squad as well." (© Daily Telegraph, London)