What will change this January at St. James’ Park?
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It has been rather a strange season for Newcastle United fans.
Just as their club had salvaged some pride and respectability, they sacked the amiable Chris Hughton – almost as if Mike Ashley missed the universal derision he was used to receiving.
The club have neither progressed or declined with Alan Pardew as manager in terms of results, but the style of play has changed.
Though results were as inconsistent as ever, Hughton had the team playing football on the ground, while Pardew has moved to a more direct approach.
As this excellent column shows, Joey Barton attempted 73 passes against Sunderland under Chris Hughton, achieving a 68% completion. Against the same team with Pardew in charge, he tried 45 passes and was only successful with 18 – just 40%.
That was due to considerably more long balls launched in the direction of the strikers.
1. Jay Bothroyd
Though Newcastle United have been reticent to listen to offers for Andy Carroll, this has not stopped the club pursuing a new striker.
Alan Pardew has made no secret of his admiration for Cardiff striker Jay Bothroyd, but the surprising form of Leon Best may change his mind.
Best scored three goals on his Premier League debut for the Magpies after missing the first few months of the season through injury, but looked jaded in his next game.
It is the doubts over his consistency that has seen Newcastle looking to bolster their attack, and the prolific Bothroyd would be an intriguing option for Newcastle.
If Pardew believes he could be the perfect foil for Carroll as a strike partner, perhaps an offer will be made.
2. Robbie Keane
Another option would be Robbie Keane, but with the figure bandied about for the 30 year-old being £6m he is hardly a bargain.
Magpies fans would also be unlikely to be pleased to secure the signature of a player rejected by arch rivals Sunderland despite their striker woes.
Still, the newspapers seem convinced that Newcastle will make a bid – and if Keane could get anywhere near the heights he hit when he and Dimitar Berbatov were a dangerous partnership for Tottenham Hotspur, he would be a great signing.
The trouble is, that was around four years ago.
3. Johan Elmander
Johan Elmander seems a more realistic purchase.
The Bolton Wanderers hitman is having a great season for his club, scoring 9 league goals so far already this season and excelling as a strike partner to similarly built player to Carroll in Kevin Davies.
Elmander’s contract with Bolton expires at the end of the season, meaning that he could well be picked up on the cheap.
4. Wes Brown
Wes Brown has reportedly been told he is surplus to requirements at Manchester United, and his experience could well benefit Newcastle.
If they used the former England international at right back, he would surely be a better option than either James Perch or Danny Simpson.
After all, it was only a few seasons ago that Brown started the UEFA Champions League final from that position.
Brown would have more competition in central defence, with Mike Williamson and Fabricio Coloccini having grown into a decent partnership and Steven Taylor not far behind in the pecking order.
His low fee may well persuade Mike Ashley to splash out.
5. Jose Fonte
An alternative option to Brown as defensive cover would be Southampton centre back Jose Fonte – linked to the club presumably because he was signed by Alan Pardew when he was the manager at St. Mary’s.
The tall defender has two seasons experience in the Championship with Crystal Palace, but stepped down to League One last January with the Saints.
For he would be ready to fill in at a Premier League club now – even as a backup role – seems optimistic at best.
6. Matt Jarvis
Wolverhampton Wanderers winger Matt Jarvis has had his fair few admirers this season, for though his club aren’t performing to the level they hope to, their left midfielder certainly is.
Four goals and two assists in the Premier League so far are a decent return for a player in the relegation zone – and his assists tally might look a bit better if Wolves could finish the chances he creates.
Jarvis may wait until his club’s fate is decided before considering a move, but given the bidding war that would inevitably begin then, perhaps Newcastle are best getting in their bid now.
7. Niko Kranjcar
Without meaning to dispute Steven Pienaar’s ability as a player, his signing for Tottenham Hotspur makes no sense to me.
The South African doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere in the Tottenham first XI, and they already had a man capable of playing across the midfield as a backup.
That man is Niko Kranjcar, a Croatian international and brilliant player on his day, and he must surely be seeking new pastures soon.
When your manager would rather bring on Jermaine Jenas, you’re in trouble.
Kranjcar would be a great player to Newcastle, and on the pitch rather than on the bench. If Spurs are willing to sell for below £4m, he would certainly worth buying for a Premier League team.
8. Shaun Wright-Phillips
Shaun Wright-Phillips is a polarising player.
Some see the quick winger with decent dribbling ability and a powerful shot. Others see a man more likely to beat five players than manage a successful five yard pass, and one more likely to send the ball into orbit than provide a successful cross.
Either way, he’s clearly on the market – and for £4m he’s yours.
9. Jonathan Legear
Another option for the right flank is Belgian winger Jonathan Legear, who is also capable of playing as a forward.
The Anderlecht man is lightning quick, and chips in with a goal every 7 games, but question marks remain over how he would adapt to one of the best leagues in the world.
The 23 year-old would not cost the earth, but it would still be a considerable gamble.
10. Shay Given
Could there be a fairytale homecoming to St. James’ Park for Shay Given?
The Manchester City goalkeeper has lost his place to Joe Hart and has openly said he has to consider his options.
Newcastle fans would certainly make him feel welcome, but Steve Harper would be entitled to feel very unlucky indeed.
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