ALAN PARDEW last night launched a strong defence of Newcastle United’s strategy for this month’s transfer window even if there could be long-term changes to the way his club relies heavily on young talent to strengthen the squad.
The Magpies – who French club Valenciennes claim have made an offer for Cameroon centre-back Gaetan Bong – are actively pursuing a number of targets in the hope of following the acquisition of full-back Mathieu Debuchy with more signings before the deadline on January 31.
A striker is high on the priority list, with Marseille’s Loic Remy top of Newcastle’s thinking, while St Etienne’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has emerged as the back-up option.
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Pardew is desperate to boost his squad with some much-needed quality following the £7.5m sale of Demba Ba to Chelsea.
But Newcastle are finding that clubs are determined to hold out for more money than the Tynesiders are offering.
Pardew, however, believes the St James’ Park boardroom cannot be accused of trying to do things on the cheap, even suggesting they are pushing even harder on the transfer front than most other topflight teams.
He said: “We’re aggressive in the field we are in.
“I still think senior players coming here on large salaries is not our area, but we are being aggressive in the area we are in. We’ve done our homework. You can’t force someone to agree a contract, you can only put your best case forward and your best offer forward and go from there.
“I would suggest we are being as aggressive in this window as anyone.” Newcastle were long aware that they could lose Ba this month, so the question why they did not have a readymade replacement lined up has been raised.
But Pardew said: “If you put yourself in the position of the agent and you have a player that is desirable, and a really good club comes in and a lesser side comes in as well, you sometimes have the impression, because of the interest and the media coverage, that an even bigger one will come in for your player.
So why sign early?
“Even if terms have been agreed, they are waiting to see if a more attractive project becomes available. No matter what finance you throw at the deal, sometimes everybody just wants to sit and wait.”
Pardew, however, is aware of the need to be successful in the transfer market before February. He said: “We do need players. It’s been obvious on this run, we’ve had an extended injury list, but even without that we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to rest players when they needed to rest.
“Therefore, we accept that we didn’t do enough in the summer and we need to do it now. We’ve made it clear we regret that.”
Injuries and suspensions have not helped, but Newcastle have won just two of their last 16 matches, losing 11, ahead of tomorrow’s long trip to Norwich City.
Another defeat could leave Newcastle in the relegation zone ahead of crucial fixtures with fellow strugglers Reading and Aston Villa.
“It’s frustrating the teams I’ve been able to put out because I didn’t envisage we would be putting these types of teams out. I thought they would be stronger,” said Pardew.
“The players who should have developed from the Under-21s, I can’t even begin to explain the frustration...
“The frustration of our fans, the trust we built up last season, has started to erode away and we need to repair that over the second half of the season. For me it’s been very frustrating.”
Yohan Cabaye is expected to return to the 18-man squad at Carrow Road for the first time since groin trouble ruled him out in November. Both Fabricio Coloccini and Papiss Cisse will also slot in again after recovering from knocks which kept them out of the FA Cup defeat at Brighton.
Pardew insists he had to turn to a number of his younger players at Brighton – as well as in a number of other games during the poor run – and some have a task on their hands to prove they deserve to stay at the club.
He said: “In defence of them, when you play one or two younger players, playing Sammy Ameobi and Shane Ferguson in a strong team like last season, it’s easier. You can cope.
“It’s harder when you have to play three or four at the same time, but whose to say I won’t have to rely on three or four of them again later in a couple of months time. It’s very important they work hard and try to improve.”
He added: “We’re going to have some tough decisions in the summer. We’ve got 17 games and at least two in the Europa League to go.
“I’ll have a lot of questions answered about what I think is under the first team here, because at the moment, what has been under the first team hasn’t produced as I hoped it would.”