Pardew demands big finish
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has challenged his players to provide the foundation for a summer spending spree with a positive finish to the season.
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The Magpies currently sit in eighth place in the Barclays Premier League table ahead of Wednesday night's home clash with Tottenham, 10 points clear of Swansea in 10th, but eight adrift of the top six.
European qualification may now be a big ask after a run of seven games which has brought just a single victory, but Pardew is aware he needs a strong conclusion to persuade his bigger names they can fulfil their ambitions on Tyneside and do not follow Yohan Cabaye through the exit, while luring his targets in the transfer window.
The 52-year-old said: "For sure, the only way we are going to do that is to keep our winning strategy.
"At the minute, we are just in the black - we have won more than we have lost - and it's important that we keep that until the end of the season.
"That gives you a foundation for the year after, where we know we have funds available. We have got to just spend it correctly."
Cabaye's big money departure for Paris St Germain during the final week of the January transfer window, and the club's subsequent failure to replace him, ripped a gaping hole in the heart of Pardew's team, and the timing could hardly have been worse.
Loic Remy's suspension - he will complete his three-match ban with the Spurs game - and injuries to Fabricio Coloccini, Mathieu Debuchy, Cheick Tiote, Gabriel Obertan, Gael Bigirimana, Yoan Gouffran and Papiss Cisse have once again exposed the relative lack of depth in the squad.
Indeed, Pardew was forced to field full-back Davide Santon in central midfield and include academy striker Adam Armstrong, who turned 17 on Monday, among the substitutes at Chelsea on Saturday.
Cisse, who aggravated a back problem during a warm-weather training camp in Abu Dhabi last month, is at least close to a return, and he has been left in little doubt as to what is required of him during the next three months or so.
The Senegal international, who scored 13 goals in his first 14 appearances for the club following his arrival in January 2012, has slipped behind loan signing Remy in the pecking order, and having been repeatedly linked with a move away from St James', is approaching a crossroads.
Pardew said: "He needs to have a big second half of the season for the summer.
"We are going to have to make a decision with Papiss: whether he is going to stay at this club and be a big player for us like he was two years ago and last year to a degree, or whether it's going to be pastures new."
Wednesday's game will be the first on Tyneside since a second successive 3-0 derby defeat by Sunderland on February 3, one which left large sections of the Toon Army in rebellious mood.
Pardew has become accustomed to the mood swings which characterise the club's existence with periods of calm interspersed with fury at owner Mike Ashley's stewardship.
While he admits it is sometimes a struggle, he insists he can only focus on the task at hand, and at the moment, that is halting a costly slide in the face of a selection crisis.
He said: "I try to be consistent through the ups and downs of the emotion that is in this city at times. Some of it is over the top, there's no doubt about that.
"For me, it's very difficult to sometimes isolate myself and concentrate on what's important.
"But usually, nine times out of 10, it's the next game and I'm pretty good at focusing my mind. I have got pretty narrow vision when it comes to the job at hand."