ALAN Pardew is looking for a player to support, not replace, his defenders despite Saturday’s alarming 5-2 defeat at Fulham.
The reverse was Newcastle United’s biggest under manager Pardew, courtesy of a dreadful 17-minute spell in which four goals were shipped.
Pardew went into the January transfer window clear a central defender was his priority.
However, he insisted that a terrible display will not change the nature of his search. “I wouldn’t want to,” he said when asked about changing his back four.
“We want to bring a defender in, that’s what I’ve said and we’ll try and do that if we can because we ain’t got no cover. If we had an injury at centre-half, we’re going to look vulnerable.”
With centre-back Steven Taylor out for the season with a ruptured Achilles, Pardew’s only defensive alternatives are the versatile Ryan Taylor and James Perch – both midfield substitutes at Craven Cottage. Jonás Gutiérrez played right-back for Argentina at the last World Cup, but has been a near-ever-present in more advanced positions this season.
Newcastle’s only signing this month has been £7.5m striker Papiss Demba Cissé from Freiburg.
Not over-reacting to a demoralising setback was the theme of Pardew’s post-match analysis.
He seems determined to keep a calm demeanour in Tenerife, where his squad are warm-weather training until Wednesday.
“The phone will be switched on and I’ll be monitoring the transfer window,” Pardew confirmed. “We’ve got a great squad and we’re looking now to the FA Cup. There’s nothing we can do about Saturday, it’s gone, but we’ve got to make sure we get through the FA Cup.
“I was just disappointed, disappointed for them. Really there’s not many times I’ve been disappointed as the manager of this team this season.”
Newcastle simply failed to cope once Fulham began to run in behind the back four in the second half, greatly helped by the introduction of Andy Johnson. “That’s been our strength all year, our defending,” reflected Pardew.
“For 20 minutes we just didn’t do it very well. It wasn’t about players we did have or didn’t have, it was just the mental concentration and it’s cost us.
“We all know the Premier League, it’s 90-minute games. For 45 minutes we were great, but that ain’t it. Most games this year for 90 minutes we’ve been very, very strong. We’ve had little lapses in games, but not many. A disappointing period of the game has cost us. We need to make sure it doesn’t happen again and learn from it. That’s what we’ll take away from it.
“If you just lose concentration at this level it’s going to be costly. The game had gone away from us.
“We mustn’t dwell on it too much. It’s done. There’s nothing we can do about it, except make sure if we concede a soft goal like we did on Saturday to let a team come back in the game we react better than we did. That will be the lesson of Saturday.”
Meanwhile, there were promising signs for Newcastle from Senegal’s opening-day defeat at the African Cup of Nations, if not for their new strikeforce of Cissé and Demba Ba.
The Lions of Teranga’s surprise 2-1 defeat to Zambia increased the chances of an early return for the Newcastle pair, but ought to have been avoided after a brilliant link-up between them.
Senegal’s 4-3-3 formation had no place for Cissé, but the 67th-minute substitute’s good piece of skill allowed him to play the ball from which Ba hit the woodwork.
And Cheick Tiote played 80 minutes of Ivory Coast’s 1-0 win over Sudan.