NEWCASTLE United have defended their decision not to bring in centre-back cover over the summer transfer window, with Derek Llambais insisting that the club must be “realistic” about the make-up of its squad.
United have been stretched by a string of defensive injuries since the start of the campaign, with Danny Simpson, Fabricio Coloccini, Steven Taylor and Ryan Taylor all spending time on the sidelines with a variety of problems.
For a club with pretensions of joining the Champions League elite in the coming years, it looks to be taking an unnecessary risk when transfer window expenditure might have mitigated some of the problems suffered in the last two games. Newcastle lost goals against both Reading and Manchester United due to defensive uncertainty.
When asked by The Journal whether he now regrets the decision to call time on their summer pursuit of defenders, Llambias said the club had decided to stick to its financially stringent blueprint and had always been open about their recruitment policy.
Newcastle’s managing director says the the club are targeting a situation where they have 33 players who are capable of playing first-team football at a high level but, for the time being, they categorise players by colour – with first-team regulars known as ‘purples’.
At the moment they have eleven ‘purples’ and Llambias insists that the budget does not allow for many more in the squad. And with four players capable of playing centre-back, he says that it was simply a case of another central defender proving too expensive for the club.
He said: “We’ve made it quite clear to everyone. We have 11 positions that are grade A players or ‘purples’, as we call them.
“Then, under them, we have the players who come in to take the positions so the squad gets bigger. Eventually we’ll have 33 players who will be pushing for a first-team position.
“Where we are now is that we have, in effect, 11 purples if you count Anita – he can play midfield, right-back, left-back. They are there.
“In the centre-back area you have Colo (Fabricio Coloccini) and Steven Taylor, who are fantastic centre-backs. Could we bring in another centre-back then? You have Perchy (James Perch) who is doing a fantastic job, Willo (Mike Williamson) who is doing a fantastic job.
“You can’t have two purples per position because the club can’t afford it. You have to be realistic.”
Llambias believes Newcastle have made a reasonable start to the season and while there was disappointment at the defeat to Manchester United, he feels there was “no disgrace” in the Magpies loss.
And with players heading back from injury – Coloccini, Taylor and Krul are all slated to return at the Stadium of Light – he is confident that results will turn for the better soon.
“We have had injuries that we didn’t the season last year with. Those guys are coming back and hopefully they will be back for the Sunderland game,” he said. Meanwhile, Newcastle are sweating over an injury to midfielder Yohan Cabaye, who looks set to miss France’s friendly with Japan on Friday after reporting muscle pain.
Cabaye has “abdominal” pains and, while France coach Didier Deschamps admits it is a concern, he has not ruled him out of Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against world and European champions Spain.