LEON Best scored twice yesterday, only for Alan Pardew to warn the jury is still out on him as a Newcastle United striker.
Best’s brace in the 2-1 win over Fulham will not deter Pardew in his search for a new centre-forward, which must come to an end on Wednesday.
The Magpies were open to offers for Best in pre-season, and two opportunist goals were not enough to paper over the cracks his manager detected.
“Leon didn’t start particularly well,” Pardew pointed out. “He is a player that is starting to establish himself as a Premier League player, he has hunger, desire.
“When he is playing poorly it does not affect him too much. I don’t worry about his confidence. He has that in abundance. He still needs to improve, though.”
“He has to prove he is a goalscorer. I have known him for a long, long time. For me he has never really had a run of goals. He has the opportunity and this is it.”
Newcastle are still hoping to sign Modibo Maïga from Sochaux or Nolan Roux from Brest but must do so before 11pm on Wednesday, when the transfer window closes for 2011. They also want to complete a deal for left-back Erik Pieters.
Still to pay money for a striker since banking £35m for Andy Carroll in January, Pardew admits he is annoyed he has not made more headway in this summer’s transfer market.
“I am frustrated we have not got a
couple of bodies in yet,” he conceded. “Derek (Llambias, managing director), Lee (Charnley, club secretary) and Mike (Ashley, Newcastle’s owner) are as frustrated as well.
“Hopefully, we will get over the line this week. There is nothing to update, we are at a point where in a few days we will know. I had hoped we would get one over the line by Sunday, it is frustrating.”
The situation has not been helped by the fact that the club’s only new face up front – free transfer signing Demba Ba – has struggled to adapt.
The Senegalese’s cause has been hindered by Ramadan, which ends today, requiring him to fast during daylight hours. He did, though, impress as a substitute yesterday, creating Best’s second goal.
“Demba has had a tricky start,” added Pardew. “I won’t go into detail. He is a great lad and will get goals for us. It is great to get a positive cameo from him.”
The victory – Newcastle’s second in an unbeaten start to the new Premier League season – was a good way to end a week which saw midfielder Joey Barton join Queens Park Rangers.
“We have won three (games) this week and in professional football, or at whatever level, that is some going,” said Pardew. “You can’t disguise the fact that in a week we lost Joey after losing José Enríque that we needed people to come out of the pack.
“I think (Gabriel) Obertan and Sammy Ameobi are doing that and Leon Best did that here. But we need reinforcements. I am not going to disguise that. We need reinforcements.”
“It is significant to start (life after Barton) with a win. He is a large personality. The club is always bigger than the individual. It is about other players making a name for themselves here.”
“Contrary to what you hear, we had a great relationship and I wish him well. Football moves quickly. We have seven points out of a really tough programme.”
Tim Krul put in his second successive man-of-the-match performance to deny Fulham three times in the second half.
“He is the type of goalkeeper who you know you will get reaction saves from,” Pardew said. “What impressed me was his presence, his reading of the game, and he looked big.
“He took a couple of crosses, that was a signal that he thinks he is a good goalkeeper.”
Substitute Haris Vuckic – like Ameobi a positive from Thursday’s League Cup win over Scunthorpe United – was himself replaced yesterday with a suspected broken hand.