Alan Pardew: Middle ground shifting away from Newcastle United

Alan Pardew admits Newcastle United’s rivals have stolen a march on them ahead of the new Premier League campaign

Gareth Copley/Getty Images Alan Pardew, manager of Newcastle United
Alan Pardew, manager of Newcastle United

Alan Pardew admits Newcastle United’s rivals have stolen a march on them ahead of the new Premier League campaign.

The Magpies and Manchester City will be the last teams to start their top-flight season when they meet at Eastlands tonight. It is not only in that respect others have a head start.

So far Newcastle’s only senior signing of the transfer window has been on-loan Loïc Rémy, who is not expected to feature in tonight’s televised game because of a calf strain.

Pardew’s frustration has only been increased by the transfer activity at those other clubs looking to take the Premier League’s centre ground. Swansea City, West Ham United and Norwich City have all spent big sums on strikers Newcastle looked at in the past, while Southampton paid around £12.5m for Celtic midfielder Victor Wanyama.

“I do think that two years ago, that middle rank of teams were not as good as they are now, and that makes it more difficult for us,” said Pardew.

“We do need to step our game up to compete with the Southamptons and West Hams who have bought well.

“(Aston) Villa progressed well towards the end of last season, and Swansea look good as well. These are teams in direct competition with us.”

Pardew is still hoping director of football Joe Kinnear can add to the squad but admits the spending of rivals has forced a change of strategy at St James’ Park.

“We’ve been actively pursuing

two or three players and we would still like to get one or two in,” said Pardew. “We’ve taken Rémy on loan (from Queens Park Rangers), which we hadn’t done before. The figures the top clubs are paying out are ridiculous.

“I don’t see a lot of late business from us, but I do think we need another striker in. We need to make sure we get a sound backroom in terms of strikers.

“Adam Campbell we have loaned out (to Carlisle United) so we might get him back later in the season, but in the short-term we need another striker.”

Juventus’  Alessandro Matri and Anzhi Makhachkala’s Willian, as well as Lille midfielder Florian Thauvin, were linked with Newcastle at the weekend, though all are likely to attract interest from elsewhere.

Matri scored ten goals for Juventus last year but they too have invested heavily in forwards this summer, and he has fallen down the pecking order behind Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente.

Everton and Sunderland have also been linked with the £6m- rated player who, at 29, would have been considered too old for the Magpies’ previous transfer policy.

All Anzhi players have been put on the market in disgruntled owner Suleiman Kerimov’s response to his club taking two points from their first five games of the season. But Brazilian Willian was signed in January as one of club football’s most exciting talents and, with Anzhi thought to be prepared to accept around half what they paid Shakhtar Donetsk, the queue for his signature will be a long one. Liverpool are one of the clubs expected to be in it.

Willian succumbed to injury just 23 minutes into Anzhi’s Europa League tie against Newcastle through injury.

Newcastle’s interest in Thauvin may be a back-up plan should Yohan Cabaye – who they also signed from Lille – leave before the September 2 deadline. Reports in France say Lille are open to an offer from England for one of the stars of this summer’s Under-20 World Cup.

Swansea’s Wilfried Bony made a goalscoring Premier League debut against Manchester United in south Wales on Saturday. West Ham made Andy Carroll’s loan move from Liverpool permanent, while Norwich’s heavy summer investment included an £8.5m deal for Ricky van Wolfswinkel.

As well as Remy, Newcastle are expected to be without Davide Santon, who has a hip injury. Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is set to deputise at left-back.

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