MIKE Ashley’s taken a hands-on role in Newcastle United’s transfer business – with the club’s Premier League status on the line.
Toon boss Alan Pardew’s desperate for two more signings.
Newcastle were just two points above the relegation zone ahead of this afternoon’s home game against Reading.
And Pardew says Ashley is acutely aware that he has a “weak” hand until further reinforcements arrive.
However, Pardew – who isn’t involved directly in transfer negotiations – refused to make any promises to supporters, mindful of his pledge to keep hold of striker Andy Carroll, who left the club two years ago.
“They’ve had enough false promises from managers here in the past, even from myself with the Andy Carroll situation,” Pardew said.
“I’m not going to fall into that trap.
“All I will say is that since I have been at the club – which is all I can talk about, my history here – we’re the most aggressive I’ve ever seen us in terms of the people who do the negotiations.
“Mike, Derek (Llambias) and Lee Charnley have been aggressive in the market.
“They know that I’m weak, and they want to strengthen my hand. I thank them for that. Hopefully, they get the players.”
United lost out on Loic Remy this week, with the striker opting to join basement club Queens Park Rangers, who tabled a more lucrative offer to the 26-year-old.
That left fans – who saw leading scorer Demba Ba join Chelsea last month – frustrated.
But Pardew believes the right calibre of player can be signed within the financial boundaries set by Ashley.
While a striker and a centre-half are the top priorities, Newcastle have had a £2m bid accepted by Nancy for left-back Massadio Haidara, and the club is discussing personal terms with the 20-year-old’s representative.
“Our financial position’s so much stronger than it has ever been,” added Pardew.
“But we find ourselves in a position where we need to invest in the team – I think that’s fairly obvious. We’re going to do that, but within the boundaries that have been set out.
“They aren’t boundaries that I’ve set – they’re boundaries that the owner has set.
“I have to abide by them. At the same time, I’ll still push for the best possible players I can get. Hopefully, the negotiations, that aren’t done by me, bear fruit.”
With a new £5bn three-year Premier League TV deal to kick in next season, the consequences of relegation are unthinkable.
And the cost of a couple of signings pales into insignificance when compared with the financial hit the club would take by dropping down a division.
“This club has already been relegated not so long ago,” said Pardew. “To be fair to Mike, he was in a position where he could keep the team together.
“If you keep the team, you go back up.
“But we don’t want to be in that scenario. The last person who wants that position is Mike Ashley.
“He doesn’t want to go back to that. We’re aggressive, but we can’t be overly aggressive. We have to do what we think is right for the club.”
Remy yesterday claimed he joined QPR for footballing, and not financial, reasons. The France international said he was “excited by the QPR project”.
On the proposed Remy deal, Pardew went on: “We made the right offer (to Olympique Marseille), and it was accepted.
“We made the player an unbelievable offer. The attraction for him and us was that he was French. It would have made him very easy for him to integrate.
“I was very surprised by his decision, and I don’t know what swayed that decision.”