ALAN Pardew has told his star names he expects them to knuckle down and return to form – after admitting to fears that some of them have had their heads turned by transfer speculation linking them with a move away from Tyneside.
Despite Pardew hinting that he may need cover for the seriously injured Ryan Taylor on Thursday night, there were no incomings at St James’ Park on a very low-key transfer deadline day.
Taylor will miss up to six months with a cruciate knee ligament injury but Pardew said that after “sleeping on it”, he thinks that James Tavernier is a ready-made replacement.
That prompted some criticism from Newcastle supporters, who pointed to a net spend of £3million and accused the United hierarchy of a lack of ambition.
Pardew took a different line, however, praising Mike Ashley for setting the price of Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye so high that it made signing them prohibitive for interested parties.
Intriguingly, the Newcastle manager also confessed the transfer window has been a disruptive influence on his squad in the opening weeks of the Premier League season. Cabaye has been linked with Arsenal while Tiote has attracted interest from Manchester United and the Gunners during the first fortnight of the season.
Pardew will address his concerns to the players in question in no uncertain terms, reminding them that they are Newcastle players until January and are expected to re-focus immediately.
He said: “The window should be shut before a ball is kicked, because it is unfair on us teams, that our players’ heads get turned.
“Have one or two of our heads got turned in terms of that dressing-room? Possibly.
“Probably the manager is the last to know. I’ve heard little bits of rumours here and there, a bit like the Press do, and I try to ignore it. Is it a factor? It probably is and it certainly has been for Wigan and Victor Moses and (Scott) Sinclair at Swansea. Absolutely.
“It’s unfair on those teams and it’s unfair on us. If I was at Man City, every team I played while the window was open I’d link myself with a couple of their players, why not?
“When the window shuts, there’s a bit more clarity in the mind of players – you’re here now, until January at least, so get your arse in gear.
“That would be the message not just from me but from every Premier League manager, I’m sure, apart from Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, whose players aren’t going to move.”
Pardew also addressed the concerns of some United supporters that Ashley had failed to build on last season’s fifth-placed finish.
United had looked to invest this summer but saw bids for Luuk de Jong, Mathieu Debuchy and Andy Carroll turned down – with Vurnon Anita emerging as the only established international to sign for the club in the close season. Pardew praised Ashley for the “strong statement” of warding off interest in his star players, revealing that the club could easily have cashed in on them.
“I think keeping our best players makes a strong statement, from Mike in particular,” he said. “He’s had a fair bit of criticism here for perhaps not investing in the club or not being fully focused or wanting to sell it and so on.
“but if that’s the case why didn’t he cash in on one of the big hitters if he didn’t have some ambition to do well for the football club? I think he does, he shares a belief with myself that we’ve got it right here, that the coaching staff are good enough, the manager and all the backroom staff are doing the best jobs they possibly can to get the maximum out of the players.
“That’s all we can do.”
However, Pardew did admit that the club might “look again” at the situation in January.
Ashley’s transfer fund of £14million was not spent and it should be noted that the club had scouts in Amsterdam this week, where they checked out Ajax defender Toby Alderweireld.