London - Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew has shrugged off newspaper reports on Saturday that club owner Mike Ashley has threatened to sack him if his team lose at Stoke City on Monday.
British newspaper The Independent claimed that Ashley had told a journalist Pardew would be sacked if Newcastle lost at Stoke, quoting him as saying: "Dead. Finished. Over. One more game, then that's it."
A lawyer for Ashley subsequently claimed that the remarks had been made in jest and Pardew played down the matter when he addressed a press conference on Saturday.
"Sometimes things are taken out of context," he said. "If it was a sit-down interview done in a serious manner, I'd be a lot more concerned than I am today, that's for sure."
Newcastle have gone five games without victory in the Premier League and Pardew says it is important that nothing distracts him from getting the team back to winning ways.
"I've not seen him (Ashley)," Pardew added. "I've spoken to him this week. He's obviously very keen for us to get victories, that's what he's about. That's what we're about, winning.
"I've been made aware of his comments in the paper. I've been under pressure at this club for a number of weeks now. All I can focus on now is the team and that's what I'll do."
Newcastle have experienced something of an upturn in fortunes in their last two matches, coming from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at home to Hull City last weekend before winning 3-2 at Crystal Palace in the League Cup.
Pardew continues to face protests from some of the club's fans, who want to see him sacked, but he is eager for the team to build on their most recent performances.
"For anything in your life, you have to be focused on what is the goal," he said. "There's a simple goal for us on Monday night: we want to get a win.
"We showed our spirit on the pitch on Wednesday (against Palace) when we were down to 10 men in extra time to get a winner. That shows we're fighting.
"We've had two morale-boosting displays, the comeback draw against Hull and the win at Palace, and that gives us something to lean on."