Pardew given permission to rebuild
Under-pressure Newcastle boss Alan Pardew will be given the opportunity to rebuild his team after a difficult conclusion to the season.
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Newcastle ended the Barclays Premier League campaign with a 2-1 defeat at Liverpool, a seventh reverse in the final eight fixtures, with some fans once again making their feelings plain.
However, Pardew will head into his annual end-of-season debrief with owner Mike Ashley this week with his job under no immediate threat.
That may dismay his most ardent critics, but the fact remains that a 10th-place finish met Ashley's minimum requirement for a season during which the goalposts were moved significantly by the January sale of Yohan Cabaye to Paris St Germain.
Pardew survived after his head-butt on Hull midfielder David Meyler in March, which drew a hefty fine from his club, but not the delivery of his P45, and the owner seems prepared to allow him to continue as he searches for the form and flair which brought the Magpies a top-five finish two seasons ago.
Whether or not he can persuade an increasingly rebellious fanbase to give him another chance, however, remains to be seen.
The mood at St James' Park has turned ugly in recent weeks as a season which got off to a more than promising start - the club sat in sixth place on Boxing Day and looked poised for an assault on the big guns above - imploded.
Cabaye's departure, or more accurately, the decision not to replace him, had a crippling effect on a team in which he had been the driving force.
Pardew had no desire to lose the France international, nor any power to prevent him from leaving.
However, he freely accepts his share of the blame for what followed as a collective negativity saw Newcastle slide alarmingly into the back-waters of mid-table with barely a whimper to invite charges of a lack of ambition.
Asked what the summer would hold for him ahead of Sunday's trip to Anfield, Pardew replied simply: "Work". What happens over the next three months seems likely to determine exactly how much longer he remains in post.
His main task will be to rebuild a squad which has given him limited options, and there will be departures as well as arrivals.
The likes of Hatem Ben Arfa, Sylvain Marveaux and Gabriel Obertan appear to have little future on Tyneside - the former has become something of a talisman for disaffected fans, although his contribution this season has been minimal - while Shola Ameobi is out of contract and his younger brother Sammy faces an anxious wait to see if he will have a part to play.
But recruitment will be key after two transfer windows during which the club did not make a single permanent signing, and Pardew has hinted he would like to shop in a different market this time around.
Chief scout Graham Carr's contacts in Europe have seen the club exploit the French and Dutch markets in recent seasons, but the manager is keen to bring a more British flavour to the group as he plots the way forward under new managing director Lee Charnley.