Something is wrong on Tyneside. The eight-year contract for Alan Pardew, the inevitable sale of Demba Ba, Fabricio Coloccini yearning for his homeland, and out-fought for Loic Remy.
What looked like a well run club last season, aligning thought out, value-for-money signings with a run at fourth place and the Champions League, now resembles the mess and drama usually associated with Newcastle. It needs more than a new signing or two to get the club back on track.
The loss of Demba Ba was surprising only in the respect, it took so long to finally happen. Papiss Cisse has failed to take up the slack in his international colleague’s absence, and looks half the player he was when he joined last winter, when scoring 11 goals in his first 10 games.
The defence looks fragile, making the imminent signing of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa from Montpellier all the more welcome, while Yohan Cabaye’s goalscoring return from injury, was not quite enough to stop Newcastle losing their eighth game in their last ten in all competitions.
More troubling is the booing coming from the St James’ Park crowd. The substitutions of Cabaye and Sylvain Marveaux did not please the Geordie faithful and although Cabaye was carrying a knock, the crowd’s discontent is an indicator of the mood of the fans this season.
No one is blaming Pardew or owner Mike Ashley yet, but it is fair to say the club’s resources have been stretched this season with the Europa League asking too much of a small squad. Injuries have also ruled out Cabaye, Steven and Ryan Taylor, Hatem Ben Arfa and Haris Vukic for large parts of the season, and it has all combined to form a perfect storm which has swept Newcastle down the table.
Adding quality signings who can come in and make an instant impact while also sticking to the self-sufficient model Ashley rightly wants the club to follow, is a difficult task, even for a Chief Scout like Graham Carr. Goalscorers especially don't come cheap and as Newcastle found with Remy, there are plenty of other suitors out there who will break the bank to secure Premiership football next season.
A new striker is important, but also the need for the likes of Ben Arfa, Cisse, and Jonas Gutierrez to regain their form. If Coloccini can be convinced to stick around until at least the summer then it will be a major help to Newcastle’s plight. Pardew’s side need to find their mojo again and new players are only part of the answer.
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