NEWCASTLE United battened down the hatches yesterday in the wake of criticism over their inability to land a striker to replace Andy Carroll.
The mood on Tyneside was one of resignation and anger after the club failed in bids to sign either Modibo Maïga or Bryan Ruiz – along with Birmingham defender Liam Ridgewell. But there was no official word from the club as they looked to answer accusations of lack of ambition and failure to deliver the striker they had consistently suggested would be recruited. The Journal understands United are hoping to release a statement to supporters today, but a frustrated Alan Pardew has opted not to comment and to keep his counsel. No official Press conference has been called due to the international break.
Newcastle’s determination not to stray from a policy that was set out at the end of the Championship-winning season was behind their failure to land either Maïga or Ruiz. The club say they will not pay over the odds for players, but a more forensic explanation is required.
Senior sources at United told The Journal that the club came closest to securing Maïga on a day of frustration at St James’ Park.
Managing director Derek Llambias was in London ready to board a plane to Paris to tie up that deal, before the player’s club, Sochaux, pulled the plug in the afternoon, apparently without a full explanation for Newcastle.
That prompted a enquiry about Ruiz, who was close to moving to Fulham when United began to talk to FC Twente about a deal for the Costa Rica striker.
But despite the club saying they agreed terms with the Dutch club, there was never a realistic chance of landing the winger-cum-forward – who may not have even been aware of the possibility of a St James’ Park switch after extensive discussions with Martin Jol.
There is a good chance of United returning to Sochaux in January with a fresh bid for Maïga, while the same is also true in the case of PSV Eindhoven defender Erik Pieters, but that will not pacify supporters who have seen the transfer window pass without Newcastle brokering a deal for the striker that they sorely need.
Leon Best set out his determination to make the most of an unexpected opportunity yesterday, saying that he could shoulder the goal-scoring burden until the turn of the year.
“I think if you want to go off my starts in the Premier League it is almost one goal every two games,” he said.
“That sounds very good but I want to add on that.
“I am obviously looking forward to the next few games. We are in the top six now so why shouldn’t we be as players?” Pardew’s mood was hardly brightened yesterday by news of an FA charge for improper conduct.
The Newcastle boss has until Monday afternoon to answer the charge, which relates to comments made about derby referee Howard Webb in the run-up to last month’s clash with Sunderland.
Managers have been instructed not to comment on officials before matches, but Pardew did so when asked if he had fears Joey Barton would be treated different by Webb because of the previous week’s much-publicised altercation with Arsenal striker Gervinho. His reply was: “The referee needs to make sure he referees the game from a completely neutral point of view because Joey has been in the press a fair bit this week – more than Joey would have liked and more than I would like – and I’m sure he’ll get a mention in Sunderland’s game plan.
“He’s a very, very good player and they’ll need to stop him but I’ve got no qualms about throwing Joey in there, no doubts at all. But the referee will need to be astute.”