Pardew: Ashley eager to take next step
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is convinced owner Mike Ashley is ready to make a real push to establish the club in the upper reaches of the Barclays Premier League.
The Magpies were last season's surprise package as they secured a top-five finish and a return to European football. Repeating that feat will be the main focus this time around and while Pardew knows that might prove difficult, he believes Ashley is up for the task.
He told the Evening Chronicle: "Mike, sensing it in him, wants to give it a real go. He got excited about what we did last year. We got very, very close to the Champions League and I think it has egged him on to really give it a go."
Ashley, of course, has enjoyed a tempestuous relationship with the club's fans during his time at the helm, but the way he has chosen to run his football club has proved shrewd in the face of a difficult financial climate.
Newcastle's transfer dealings in recent seasons have been astute with their policy of investing in players with a potential sell-on value having paid off handsomely.
However, last season's success will not spark a return to the free spending which preceded his arrival.
Pardew said: "The fans have seen what he is trying to do. All the criticism of the past suddenly seems slightly shallow.
"He's got the club on a good footing and we are looked at as a good model for other Premier League teams. Financially, we are sound.
"We can't compete with the big boys unless we get Champions League football. Mike isn't going to fund that.
"He's made that clear, but he's given me an opportunity to maybe do it anyway. I'm hoping the success continues and the fans appreciate the £260million of Mike's own money he's put in. He wants to see success."