SHAY Given has repeated his call for Newcastle United to bring in reinforcements during the January transfer window to help the team cope in what he predicts will be a “long, hard season”.
Given, the club’s longest-serving player, made a similar plea before the season started but with the club unable to break away from the relegation zone it is a timely reminder to the board that the playing staff remains perilously short on numbers.
Newcastle earned a point at Middlesbrough on Saturday with another creditable defensive display that owed much to Sebastien Bassong and another smart reflex stop from United’s outstanding keeper – but still languish near the foot of the Premier League, just above third-bottom Sunderland on goal difference.
After being confirmed in his post until the end of the season Kinnear stated on Friday that Mike Ashley will make funds available during the January transfer window but there were a flurry of reports in yesterday’s papers that the owner has told the United manager he must sell in order to raise funds.
If that is to happen it may hit Kinnear’s chances of signing the likes of Sol Campbell, linked with a move to St James’s Park – if Tony Adams decides he is surplus to requirements at Fratton Park – and John Arne Riise.
Given was happy enough with another dogged display but looking to the long term he believes it will be difficult for Newcastle to keep their heads above water if injuries and suspensions hit them in the New Year.
“We’ve come out of the relegation zone and that’s something I suppose. It’s some consolation that we’re above Sunderland now,” he said.
“We know it’s going to be a long, hard season – we’ve got to accept that and get
on with it. We’re down there with 10 or 11 teams – it’s a very tight division and seeing yourself in the bottom three isn’t a nice feeling.
“It’s good that the manager situation is sorted out now. There was a bit of uncertainty, maybe – we didn’t know whether he was here for a week, a month. At least we know he’s here until the end of the season and we can put those kind of queries to bed.
“Hopefully he can bring in a couple of new players in January now as well. We need to bring a few in – it’s important that we strengthen I think. We haven’t got the biggest squad.”
United’s cause was aided on Saturday by one of the few additions made over the summer, the cut-price import Bassong who is improving with every game.
After a peerless performance against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Given was delighted with the contribution of the 22-year-old in front of him. “Sebastien Bassong has come on hugely. He was brilliant at Chelsea and brilliant against Middlesbrough,” he said.
Meanwhile, the club have condemned the actions of supporters who sang Islamaphobic chants at Middlesbrough substitute Mido.
While nothing like the abuse that the Egypt forward was subjected to at the corresponding fixture last season, there was still a pocket of supporters among United’s sizeable support who repeated the chants that nearly landed the club in trouble with the Football Association.