Newcastle United set for South Africa?

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NEWCASTLE United are in talks over playing in a pre-season tournament in Johannesburg, according to reports in South Africa.

Negotiations are reportedly at an “advanced stage” for the club to take part in the Vodacom Challenge, which is hosted by the Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.

Another team is also being sought for the four-team tournament, according to the Sowetan newspaper.

Up to now, the club – which visited the United States last summer – has declined to comment on its pre-season plans as they have not been finalised.

In any case, Newcastle have had to wait until their Premier League fate was decided, as early involvement in a Champions League qualifier would have had consequences friendly programme.

As it is, it won’t play a Europa League game, a two-legged qualifier, until late August.

Asked about pre-season last month, Pardew said: “We will go on a pre-season tour, definitely.”

Alan Pardew has dedicated his manager of the year accolades to his players and backroom team at Newcastle United.

Pardew was honoured by his fellow professionals at the League Managers Association’s annual dinner on Monday.

The 50-year-old was last week named the Premier League’s manager of the year.

The awards recognised Pardew’s achievement in guiding Newcastle to a fifth-placed finish, and into the Europa League, this season.

While “honoured” at the awards, Pardew insists his squad and staff deserve as much praise as him.

“I’m thrilled about it still,” Pardew said. “To be voted by your other managers is a massive thing.

“We all know how tough the job can be, but this award is more for my team who have been massive. It’s reflective on everybody here, and it’s great that we’re getting recognition like this.”

United was described as an “unmanageable” club long before Mike Ashley took over, and managing the team – and expectations on Tyneside – is a unique challenge in football.

Pardew has labelled his No2, John Carver, as one of his best signings, and he is also assisted by Steve Stone and Andy Woodman.

“It’s a challenge to be manager of this team – there’s no doubt about that,” added Pardew.

“To have assembled the group we have, myself, John Carver, Stoney and Woody are very proud.

“The backroom staff, right down to Thommo (Ray Thompson) the kitman, have all played a part. You don’t get where we are, above teams as good as this, unless you’re all in it together.”

Pardew thanked his predecessor, Chris Hughton, for his work at the LMA dinner.

Hughton, Pardew said, allowed him to “inherit a winning spirit” at the Sports Direct Arena when he joined in December 2010.

And the togetherness behind the scenes, and spirit on the pitch, is crucial to United’s hopes of building on their success next season.

“It is unique, and we’ve got to try not to lost that next year,” said Pardew, whose side were beaten 3-1 at Everton on the final day of the season last Sunday.

“That was my message at the end of the game. I thought we showed great spirit in the second half.

“The other games were going against us, and we were 2-0 down, and we were still having a go.

“It would have been easy to sulk and lose 4-0, but we didn’t We kept going, and I thought the scoreline could have been different.”