ALAN Pardew feels Newcastle United need to add “experience” in the summer transfer market to avoid another flirtation with the drop, writes MARK DOUGLAS.
The United boss (pictured right) is acutely aware that his team are right in the thick of the relegation mix this season and they head to Upton Park in dire need of points to avoid losing control over their own destiny.
Although they cannot slip into the bottom three this afternoon, defeat – allied with a Wigan win at West Brom – will leave Newcastle relying on other team’s results between now and the season’s end on May 19.
One way or the other there will be a major inquest into what has gone wrong for the Magpies to slip from their fifth place last term to this year’s struggles, with their recruitment strategies one area up for discussion.
Newcastle have planned to make more Continental forays this summer, which has led some to question whether they need more British-based talent in the squad. Pardew did not go that far but he admits that the team has lacked Premier League nous and know-how – which is something that he feels former skipper Kevin Nolan had in abundance.
Nolan will be lining up against Newcastle today and
Pardew sees in him the sort of experience that his team might need to look to in the summer.
He said: “The market is the market.
“We will certainly at the end of the year have a discussion about where we are going to trade, where is best for the group and I think one of the problems I faced in this group, if I am honest, is not a language problem, not a cultural problem, it’s been inexperience.
“We still have a lot of inexperience on the pitch. Mapou is playing his eighth, ninth Premier League game on the trot.
“As Colo found when he arrived, and he has been a great player for us. He gives us a seven, eight, nine every week when he’s playing. But when he first come he wasn’t like that.
“Hopefully in the next three we can get performances that are more eight and nine, than six.”
The prospect of Nolan and striker Andy Carroll lying in wait for Newcastle is one guaranteed to send anxiety surging through black-and-white veins.
Both won games for United in the Championship and on their return to the Premier League, and Pardew must find a way to neutralise their presence in East London.
Pardew confessed: “What Kevin has is a real knowledge of how to win games in the Premier League. As Sam Allardyce does, and that’s what we are up against on Saturday.
“James Collins, Mark Noble, these are players who I know very well who are very experienced in the Premier League. O’Brien and Jarvis have played a lot in the PL and they have nous.
“That’s a word I used a lot about Kevin as Kevin used to find positions on his pitch just through his own nous, he is sniffing chances out. He is a worry for us on Saturday.
“In terms of leadership in the group we have got leadership but in a different way. I wouldn’t say Colo is like Kevin, I wouldn’t say Cabaye is like Kevin, or Shola is like Kevin but they are kind of our leading group and we look to them now.”
In Ben Arfa, Pardew has one player capable of making a positive difference. The key is nursing him through an intense three-week period.
He said: “The problem we have had with Hatem is breaking down. We are hoping that he is in a better shape so he doesn’t break down and we can get more time from him.”