THERE might be more than two weeks until the transfer window closes, but Alan Pardew insists he will be satisfied if Newcastle United do not make any more additions to their squad this month.
The Magpies have signed nine players this summer, and while former Nottingham Forest duo Jamaal Lascelles and Karl Darlow have been loaned straight back to the Championship club, that still represents a significant strengthening of the squad that finished last season.
Fears have been expressed, however, about a lack of attacking firepower with the relatively unproven trio of Emmanuel Riviere, Facundo Ferrerya and Ayoze Perez having replaced Loic Remy, Shola Ameobi and Luuk de Jong, all of whom have left since the end of last season.
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With Papiss Cisse likely to be sidelined for at least another month-and-a-half, it had been thought that Newcastle could still try to bring in another centre-forward, with the likes of Remy, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang having been tracked throughout the summer.
Pardew has not completely ruled out another addition, but if, as now looks likely, his summer spending is over, the Magpies manager is adamant he will be happy with his lot.
“I don’t think we’re short of anything because if I look at my roster, it’s full up,” he said. “I actually haven’t got a spare place on the roster. Ideally, managers always want more players and more quality, but I’m not going to bemoan where I’m at.
“We’ve got good strikers in the building, although I don’t necessarily think that’s us in terms of the transfer market. It’s not something we’ve completely given up on. We’re still looking at it and we’ve got our finger on the pulse – and that’s something we’ve done very well this summer.”
Perez’s arrival for around £1.5m ended a run of more than 18 months without a single permanent addition, and the inactivity of the two previous transfer windows was replaced with a whirlwind recruitment drive that saw Newcastle add Siem de Jong, Remy Cabella, Jack Colback and Daryl Janmaat as well as their three centre-fowards and two Nottingham Forest loanees.
The £12m sale of Mathieu Debuchy to Arsenal swelled the coffers, and the £20m received for Yohan Cabaye in January means Newcastle’s net spend over the course of the last 12 months is actually fairly negligible.
Nevertheless, Pardew feels that along with the rest of the Magpies’ recruitment team, he deserves credit for dispelling the notion that the club was either incapable of or unwilling to sign players.
“Myself, Lee Charnley and Graham Carr have known about every transfer that’s gone through and been involved in everything that was in our ability to bring to the football club,” he said.
“You have to understand that the gulf is getting bigger and wider, and the new rules UEFA have brought in for fair play are only going to help the bigger clubs. That’s been proven this summer.
“There have been transfers we couldn’t get involved with, but underneath, we’ve been there or thereabouts and I think we’ve done some good business. If we didn’t get another player in I’d be fine, and I’d quite happily attack the season with what we’ve got.”
If anything, Pardew would like to reduce the size of his squad via the departure of some fringe players, most notably Hatem Ben Arfa, who will not be considered for selection tomorrow, and Jonas Gutierrez, who is training in Argentina after being told to look for a new club.
Pardew refused to discuss either player directly yesterday – “I don’t want to comment on those players” – but his thoughts on squad spirit clearly suggest he would like to have both Ben Arfa and Gutierrez off his squad list by the time the transfer window closes.
“The balance of the squad is always important, and the spirit is crucial,” he said. “When you see teams that win trophies, it’s obvious you need a group of players who have quality and physical prowess, but more importantly they also have to have spirit.
“You can see great teams who fail when they don’t have that – look at Spain in the World Cup or France after they won in 1998.
“You need that spirit, and I think we have a great spirit this summer. I will not allow anything to alter that spirit, and I will ensure it remains as it is.”
The only negative to the summer has been the late spate of injuries that have reduced Pardew’s options for tomorrow’s opener against Manchester City.
Siem de Jong is unavailable after missing the last four pre-season matches with a calf injury, while a hamstring problem means Chiek Tiote joins Davide Santon, Ryan Taylor and Cisse on the list of absentees.
“Siem will not play against Manchester City, but should be back against Aston Villa,” said Pardew. “It’s another week for Chiek, although it’s nothing too serious. Papiss is working with us again, although Santon is a little more long term.
“We’re not that far away from a full-strength squad, and we’ll cope without Tiote and de Jong because we’ve known for a few days they would not be playing. They’ll be a miss, but we’ll be able to cope and it’s nice to say that this season.”