Dec 23 (Reuters) - Newcastle United trio Alan Pardew, Mike Ashley and Joe Kinnear have been the target of much criticism in the last 12 months but the manager, owner and director of football can look forward to Christmas having steered the club into an unlikely title race.
Newcastle made it six wins from eight with a comprehensive 3-0 victory at Crystal Palace on Saturday to move within six points of Premier League leaders Liverpool.
Flying high in sixth, it is a far cry from 12 months ago when the club were mired in a relegation dogfight after a 7-3 hammering by Arsenal which they eventually survived to finish a dismal campaign in 16th.
That was followed by the leftfield appointment of Kinnear in June with the Irishman mocked after a series of gaffes in a radio interview where he mispronounced the names of Newcastle players and officials and took credit for a signing someone else had made.
Pardew, though, said the current run of results proved things were working well.
"We're in a good place as a club," the manager said in quotes carried by British media on Monday.
"I know we've had some strange opinions about us from outside but we're working well together.
"The owner is really pleased, I'm really pleased and, more importantly, the players are really pleased because if they are not you can't get those sort of performances."
Pardew was named manager of the month for November after his side picked up impressive wins over Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion after an indifferent start to the campaign.
They followed that up with a disappointing 3-0 loss at Swansea City before recording a first win over Manchester United at Old Trafford since 1972.
Newcastle sit sixth ahead of home clashes with Stoke City on Thursday and Arsenal on Sunday.
With the transfer window reopening on Jan. 1, Pardew is eyeing new recruits to sustain the momentum.
"That might be an opportunity for us to galvanise ourselves. I haven't really talked too much about the finance available but we've talked about players," the former Southampton, Reading and West Ham United boss said.
"We're making sure that we don't miss what might be a key signing. You look at the last two January windows, we've done good business."
Two years ago, Newcastle signed Senegal striker Papiss Cisse in the January transfer window and his goals helped spur them on to a fifth-placed finish.
In the last January window they recruited six players, five from France, to help them beat relegation.
Pardew said he, Kinnear, Ashley and chief scout Graham Carr were working well on finding potential targets.
"We sit down and discuss and make sure we make the right decision for the club. The finance comes into that, of course, but so does selection of what I need.
"With Joe's knowledge of football he knows that the manager needs certain things and that has helped, in my opinion. I don't really want to say any more than that but I think that gives you a little bit of insight."
(Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by Peter Rutherford)