ALAN PARDEW’S future as Newcastle United manager was shrouded in mystery this evening as Crystal Palace officials prepared to make a formal approach for the Londoner.

With bookmakers having briefly suspended betting after a flood of support for Pardew to be appointed as Neil Warnock’s successor at Selhurst Park, the Magpies manager spurned an opportunity to rule himself out of the running for the post.

Pardew refused to carry out any of his post-match press duties in the wake of Newcastle’s 3-2 win over Everton, with assistant manager John Carver instructed to speak to the media instead.

Pardew’s evasiveness has fuelled speculation over his future, with Palace chairman Steve Parish determined to appoint a new manager as quickly as possible with his side still in the bottom three despite yesterday’s goalless draw at QPR.

Pardew still has more than five years of his current contract to run, so Palace would have to pay a hefty compensation bill in order to secure his services. However, while the likes of Tim Sherwood, Vitor Pereira and Tony Pulis have been discussed as alternatives, sources in London claim the Palace hierarchy regard Pardew as the man most likely to lead them to safety in the second half of the season.

Whether the 53-year-old Londoner could be persuaded to leave the North-East remains to be seen, but today’s disappearing act is interesting given that he must have known it would intensify the speculation over his future.

On the one hand, Pardew, who is the second longest-serving manager in the Premier League, appears well settled at St James’ Park, with Mike Ashley having backed him a couple of months ago despite a large number of Newcastle supporters calling for his head.

He has been forced to accept a back seat when it comes to recruitment though, something that would not be the case at Crystal Palace, and may feel he has taken Newcastle as far as they can realistically go without a level of investment that Ashley has hitherto proved unwilling to provide.

The next couple of days are likely to prove crucial, with Pardew’s next public engagement due to come at a pre-match press conference ahead of the New Year’s Day game with Burnley on Tuesday afternoon.

“Alan just said, ‘Will you go and do the press for me’,” said Carver, after goals from Papiss Cisse, Ayoze Perez and Jack Colback lifted Newcastle to ninth position in the table. “I was actually eating a pie at the time.

“He’s fine, he’s delighted because this was a fantastic result for us. We’ve gone on a run of games where we’ve not won and had a difficult period against good opposition, but we set about Everton today and he’s been pleased with the performance.”