NEWCASTLE United have moved to end speculation surrounding manager Alan Pardew’s future after the club’s post-season inquest.
The club yesterday issued a statement from managing director Derek Llambias.
Llambias talked of “constructive” talks between owner Mike Ashley and Pardew, whose side finished 16th in the Premier League after a season-long battle against relegation.
Ashley had been keen to discuss what went wrong last term – and how it could be put right.
There were similar debriefs after the last two seasons.
Llambias went on to say the “expectation” for United – who finished fifth the previous campaign and qualified for the Europa League – was to challenge for a top-10 place next term.
Llambias said: “Everyone connected with the club was disappointed to finish where we did last season, particularly on the back of such a fantastic year prior to that.
“Our discussions were very constructive, and we pinpointed a number of factors that contributed to a season which fell below expectations.
“We are now looking forward and are entirely focused on the forthcoming campaign, with the expectation of at least a top-10 finish in the Premier League.
“There has been a great deal of speculation in recent weeks, but our desire, as we announced back in September (when Pardew was handed an eight-year contract), is to bring long-term stability to this club.
“It’s up to us all now to work closely as a team to ensure next season sees us competing in the top half of the table again.
“We would all like to thank the fans for their continued support, and assure them we remain committed to providing affordable football at St James’s Park.”
There had been calls for 51-year-old Pardew to be dismissed after the home defeats to Sunderland and Liverpool last month.
Pardew, in the face of increasing criticism from fans, maintained a lack of squad depth, a run of injuries and the demands of European football were mitigating factors for the club’s poor domestic campaign.