Spotlight: Plenty to ponder for top two while all's quiet on the Teesside front (From The Northern Echo)
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Spotlight: Plenty to ponder for top two while all's quiet on the Teesside front
6:00am Saturday 5th January 2013 in Sport
WHILE a lot of the business done in the January transfer window is left until the final minutes of the last day of the month, Newcastle could do with getting their targets in as soon as possible.
Twelve months ago, Papiss Cisse's £9million move from Frieburg on January 18 was the first major piece of business done in the window and Magpies boss Alan Pardew will be keen to repeat that with his side languishing two points above the relegation places.
In some ways, Newcastle's 7-3 thrashing at the hands of Arsenal on December 29 was a blessing in disguise, as it forced owner Mike Ashley to finally dip his hands in his pockets after a frugal summer.
The £5.5m capture of France right-back Mathieu Debuchy yesterday is a very good start, albeit six months late, and having already identified his targets months ago, it wouldn't be surprising to see more faces arrive at St James’ Park sooner rather than later.
Of course, it isn't always that simple, especially given the fact clubs are far less willing to part with their prize assets in the middle of the season, but the fact they agreed a fee for Debuchy less than 24 hours after the Arsenal defeat demonstrates the Magpies hierarchy isn't willing to wait around.
A central defender is also high on Pardew's shopping list and the fact they have conceded 13 goals in their last three games suggests changes need to be made.
Twente's Brazilian-born defender Douglas was another summer target, but the Magpies' initial bid of £3.1m was rejected with the Dutch side looking for £5m.
The Tynesiders could well return to Holland for the Dutch international, but chief scout Graham Carr has also been monitoring a number of targets in France.
Valenciennes' 21-year-old centre-back Nicolas Isimat Mirin has been linked with the Magpies, while Paris St Germain defender Mamadou Sakho and Montpellier's Mapu Yanga Mbiwa are also possible targets.
Defensive options are very high on Pardew's list, but Pardew’s biggest priority is a replacement for Demba Ba, who completed his 7.5m move to Chelsea this week.
The Senegal international's representatives met with Chelsea officials after the Stamford Bridge outfit triggered the £7.5m release clause in the striker’s contract.
Marseille striker Loic Remy has been heavily linked with a move to Tyneside, but Pardew faces competition from the likes of Tottenham and Queens Park Rangers for the France international.
The Ligue 1 club are holding out for £10m, but the Magpies could offer one of their own players in exchange. St Etienne’s Honduras international Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has also been watched.
After losing his top goalscorer, Pardew will hope Ba is the only major departure from St James' Park and as was the case in the summer, keeping hold of other key men such as Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Tim Krul and Hatem Ben Arfa will be another transfer window must for the Magpies.
AFTER forking out £20million for Adam Johnson and Steven Fletcher in the summer, Sunderland owner Ellis Short was banking on a quiet January.
However, despite that significant spending, the Black Cats - much like their black and white rivals - are in desperate need of a facelift in the first month of 2013.
Five players walked through the Stadium of Light doors in the summer, but five wins from 21 Premier League games suggest more faces, and more quality, is needed.
Fletcher has been a revelation since his £12m move, but the Black Cats are relying heavily on the former Wolves man with Martin O'Neill reluctant to call upon Louis Saha, Ji Dong-Won, Frazier Campbell and James McFadden.
Dong-Won has already left to join FC Augsberg on loan until the end of the season, but he might not be the only player to leave the club with Hull City keen on making a permanent move for David Meyler.
If another striker leaves the Stadium Of Light, O'Neill will need to bring in another forward-thinking player.
He has already been linked with a two-month loan move for New York Red Bulls’ Tim Cahill, who spent eight years at Everton before joining the MLS club this season.
A creative midfielder, who can score goals, keep the ball and spread play is something the Black Cats are crying out for and Cahill could well be the perfect option, although temporary.
But after splashing in the summer, Short will not be keen to part with another lump sum of cash and loan deals could well be how O'Neill strengthens his ranks.
Indeed, that presents problems in itself in terms of long-term planning, but the Black Cats boss just has to make sure his side finish the season with their Premier League status intact before he can fully reassess his squad.
The season-long loan deal that saw Spurs left-back Danny Rose arrive on Wearside has been a massive success for O'Neill, but Andreas Villas Boas has already ruled out a permanent transfer for the 22-year-old.
O'Neill could do with bringing in at least one defender to add some competition to his squad too. In particular, when the Black Cats boss loses one of his full-backs to injury he calls upon the likes of Jack Colback and Craig Gardner to fill in.
They might seem decent short term answers, but bringing in players natural in those positions will give him better options and more quality.
Since taking over the club, Short has been largely reluctant to pull his cheque book out in the winter window and O'Neill will have to convince the Black Cats chairman that reinforcements are needed.
The Black Cats boss has openly admitted the need to strengthen in recent weeks and you can't help but think that is his way of calling out to Short that something needs to be done.
HAVING done a lot a good business in the summer, Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray has already revealed January will be a quiet month for the Teessiders.
This time last year, Boro perhaps needed a few more faces to add to the signing of Lukas Jutkiewicz and the fact no one else walked through the door was perhaps a big reason why their season fizzled out and a play-off place went begging.
However, Mowbray really got to work in the summer and as things stand the need to bring in new players isn't at the forefront of his mind.
It is already apparent that the squad Mowbray has assembled has undoubtedly more strength in depth and a lot more quality than it did last term and it seems the only way players will come in this month is if players are sold.
The likes of Marvin Emnes, Nicky Bailey, Seb Hines and Rhys Williams have all attracted interest in previous windows, but Mowbray, backed by chairman Steve Gibson, will only let a key player go if the price is right.
Undoubtedly, their promising position in the Championship table suggests their players might be targets of other clubs, but the feeling around the club is a lot stronger and there is a sense Mowbray and his side are on the verge of achieving something good.
The only position Boro could do with strengthening is in defence. In recent weeks Mowbray has had to deal with injuries to Stuart Parnaby, Andre Bikey, Hines and Woodgate, while Rhys Williams has only just returned after four months out.
The Boro boss has to monitor Woodgate on a game-by-game basis, so relying on him when other defenders are out isn't ideal. Bringing in an experienced defender, even if on a short-term basis, doesn't have to break the bank and Mowbray has already got a good track record of pulling off bargain basement deals.
One player’s future Mowbray will be keen to sort out is Josh McEachran. Boro are hoping Chelsea won’t recall the midfielder during January and his performances for the Championship side outline how important he has been this season.