Just when you thought that Newcastle had learnt its lesson from last year’s dreadful season, it appears as though they are about to do it all over again, with limited arrivals papering over the cracks in the wall left by departing players. But now as Yohan Cabaye eyes his exit to Arsenal or PSG, Newcastle are bracing themselves for the wall to be torn down and the club to go crashing with it. It is true that no one player makes a club but when the person in question is your lynchpin to everything you do, it’s fair to be concerned with his potential departure.
Cabaye’s refusal to play until his transfer saga is resolved indicates the players desire to leave Newcastle. Manager Alan Pardew admits that Cabaye’s head has been turned and that for the good of the club, it is better that his star midfielders not play than upset the core of the team. A brave decision by the coach especially with the lack of squad depth to back it up. So far only Loic Remy has arrived on loan whilst several have departed (admittedly mostly fringe players) leaving the manager and fans to worry once again about the squads ability to cope with injuries, suspensions or further departures. Signings are now firmly under Joe Kinnears mandate but the Irishman is doing nothing to improve his poor reputation with the fans with his lack of actions. Speculation has mounted around various player arrivals but none have come to fruition. The only thing Newcastle fans have seen in the papers is Kinnear looking rather worse for wear at Nice Airport recently.
With only ten days left in the window, Newcastle are bracing themselves for the worst. Having already lost to Manchester City then drawn with West Ham, the cracks are once again being highlighted for all to see. Short on firepower upfront, Newcastle recorded no shots on target against the hammers, a new record for the Premiership that Pardew will not be keen to have. In goal, Tim Krul again looks solid but if he is to pick up an injury again, his replacement Rob Elliot looks less so. In defence, Taylor has passion but can be erratic which can lead to problems like his sending off against City. Time will tell if Coloccini’s homesickness has subsided and he is committed to the cause as Newcastle look stronger when he is leading them. But its central midfield that worries most people especially with the potential departure of Cabaye. In the proverbial engine room, Cabaye and Ivorian Chieck Tiote ran the show two seasons ago when Newcastle shocked many with their fifth place finish in the league. Last season saw the breakup of this partnership due to long term injuries with devasting results. Newcastle barely survived last year so if Cabaye is to leave it could spell disaster for the club. Pardew has limited options in the middle and none that match the caliber of Cabaye. Recent signing Moussa Sissoko looks accomplished going forward but lacks the all round game that Cabaye brings whilst Dutch import Vurnon Anita has yet to live up to expectations, looking rather lightweight against stronger, more physical Premiership teams. There is also Dan Gosling, Sylvain Marveaux and Gaël Bigirimana that can play in that central role but all three have struggled in the past with form and fitness.
If Cabaye does depart before the end of the window, Newcastle will have to use a majority of the anticipated £15-20 million they would receive for the player to reinvest in a suitable replacement. Delving back into the French market may be tough with some of the best central midfielders Yann M’Villa, Dimitri Payet and Étienne Capoue having already been picked up by other clubs. There are options with the likes of Lyon’s Clément Grenier, Marseille’s Mathieu Valbuena or PSG’s Blaise Matuidi but all will demand large transfer fees to guarantee their release. Pardew may decide to go against tradition and sign an English midfielder with Everton’s Ross Barkley or Southampton’s Adam Lallana plausible options. Either way, Newcastle needs to strengthen and soon to avoid another season fighting against relegation.