WHEN Alan Pardew leaned forward on his desk, he subconsciously moved tiny red draughts around to form a 4-4-2 formation on a clipboard just in front of him. Two banks of four; two strikers.
This was a man with football on his mind and a clear view on how Newcastle United should be set up.
It is not every day that a Premier League manager opens his office doors to the local press, offering an insight in to a day in the life of the coaching staff. Yesterday, however, Newcastle United's boss did just that.
Here he was, relaxed in his day-to-day surroundings, taking questions about what changes he has introduced since taking over at St James' Park in the build up to a match that could make or break Newcastle's season.
With the £35m raised by the sale of Andy Carroll in January, Pardew and his coaching team have spent much of the last week since winning at Birmingham working on identifying summer targets to replace him.
But where Newcastle fans will be closely monitoring what developments are made on that front in the months ahead, recruitment plans are just a small piece of what goes on behind the scenes at a professional club.
Newcastle have been represented at matches across Britain and in Europe, as they look to potential targets they have listed on a scouting database, but Pardew's initial concern is Bolton, this Saturday.
I have changed a lot of analytical stuff since I came in,
said Pardew, appointed in mid-December following Chris Hughton's exit. I brought in two new analysts who put together reports on how our defence, our midfield and our attack is doing. They also look at how our opposition is doing, plus there's the scouting side too.
We have four analysts now and we only had two when I arrived. We also have John Carver, my assistant, here and his brief is to ensure he keeps on top of our attacking side of things, while I concentrate on the defence and the overall organisation of the team.
Pardew's analysts' have been looking in to ways of exploiting Bolton; just as Owen Coyle will have instructed his backroom team to have identified any weaknesses he feels exist within the Magpies team.
There is nothing different about Newcastle's approach to the visit of Bolton than there has been under Pardew for the matches he has taken charge of building up to it. He does not share the view there is nothing for his team to play for this season.
With 11 matches remaining, Newcastle sit four points shy of sixth place Liverpool and just two points adrift of Sunderland in seventh. European football might not be on his lips or on those of the Newcastle fans, but it is not beyond the realms of possibility.
With matches against Everton, Stoke City, Wolves, Blackpool, Birmingham and West Brom among the remaining fixtures after this weekend's visit of Bolton, Newcastle have an opportunity to enjoy an even greater finish than what could have been imagined at the start of the season.
The Bolton game is pivotal because it comes after we have won an away game, we now have won four away games and now we need to improve our home form, said Pardew, knowing how Newcastle have won more on their travels than they have on home soil.
We have an opportunity to do that. If we win this game we can attack the top ten otherwise we will have lost an opportunity.
We will either have a season where we have something to go for or one where we are just seeing it out. I don't want that to happen and I want the fans to know that.
Pardew has his players' performances recorded on a daily basis on the training ground through the highly-recommended Amisco system.
The former West Ham manager, just months in to a fiveyear deal, is big on statistics and, when he tries to strengthen his squad in the summer, he is keen to target players capable of slotting in to his methods immediately. He will not go down the route of making the sort of marquee signing that has cost the club in the past.
Pardew said: The agenda has been set and I have to work to that. They want players here with value. In defence of Mike Ashley, there are times when players have come to this club with no future value, even though they have been successful. That is an area he does not want to be involved in again.
Pardew wants to ensure progress is made over the long term under his management, but he will always guard against complacency.
No matter what his analysts, his scouting or backroom teams come up with, he knows the corner is never turned completely.
Football changes so quickly.
I understand that in the Premier League you can lose momentum quickly, he said.
If you lose it, it is very difficult to get it back.
We can't think that if we take our foot off the gas that we won't lose momentum because it happens.
It can happen in a year.
Look at Everton their squad on paper should be ten points ahead of us.
It is not where Newcastle will finish next year that bothers Pardew, his designs purely rest on making sure Newcastle finish in the top ten - for now anyway.
Members of Newcastle's first team squad will be at the official club store in the Metro Centre tomorrow afternoon to mark its re-opening.
The players, including new signing Stephen Ireland and defender Steven Taylor, will be on hand to sign shirts and autographs from 2-4pm.