New Toon boss offered chance to build 'long-term' success

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Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is ready to hand his new manager the chance to build for long-term success.

It is understood the Magpies are closing in on their primary target to replace Chris Hughton after two days of talks - Alan Pardew remains the overwhelming bookmakers' favourite - and could make an announcement as early as Thursday.

Whoever gets the job will be given time to implement the blueprint drawn up by the club's hierarchy after three-and-a-half years of turmoil at St James' Park.

That may not involve sizeable transfer funds or lucrative wage packets to attract new recruits, but it will present the successful candidate with the opportunity to plan ahead, provided that he can remove the spectre of relegation from the horizon.

Newcastle are remaining tight-lipped over the identity of the man they believe can take the club forward.

However, former Reading, West Ham, Charlton and Southampton boss Pardew is the bookmakers' favourite with Ladbrokes quoting him as a 1/9 shot and William Hill going even stronger at 1/12.

Pardew is understood to be one of the men who has featured prominently on a very short shortlist, although is not the only serious option to be considered since Hughton's departure on Monday.

But with the likes of Alan Curbishley, Martin O'Neill and Martin Jol having slipped in the betting, his odds have shortened by the day.

Fans furious with Ashley's decision threw their weight firmly behind O'Neill in an online poll carried out by the club's evening newspaper, the Evening Chronicle with the Northern Irishman attracting 42.3 per cent of the 1,000-plus votes cast and Jol claiming 32.8 per cent.

Pardew received just 14, or less than two per cent, three times less than Hughton.

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