Comment: Alan Pardew defends Joe Kinnear but fails to hide the significant cracks in Newcastle foundations
Loan signing of Loic Remy was the only new arrival at St James' Park this summer
The uneasy truce came at three o'clock on Tuesday, 16 hours after the transfer window had shut. In it, Alan Pardew spoke of being in an "optimistic frame of mind," of "exciting partnerships" and said that Joe Kinnear, the Newcastle director of football, had "worked hard on numerous targets."
Last week Pardew had said there was money to spend, regardless of Yohan Cabaye's future. Two weeks ago, Pardew had stressed Newcastle needed to get "one or two transfers over the line before deadline."
Nothing happened, but the power struggle is such at St James' Park that there is a need for caution from Pardew. He cannot say that he wished the club had landed Darren Bent. He cannot express frustration that his squad has added a little bit of quality in Loic Remy and lost even more depth after being pruned.
Pardew's position is way too precarious for that kind of attack.
A beast of a football club walks on egg shells.
Only Kinnear feels confident enough in his role to ride roughshod over the airwaves, although even he has lost the gusto that saw proclaim to the world that he would make Newcastle better and stronger upon his appointment, lest we forget, on a three-year deal, back in June, when what little semblance of sense at this football club ended.
His first act as director of football was to block a move that had taken 12 months to set up for the central defender Douglas. Graham Carr, the chief scout who Mike Ashley, the Newcastle owner, personally gave an eight year contract, was ready to walk because of it. It is thought there was a deal close to completion on Monday for a wide midfielder as the clock ticked towards 11 o'clock. Again it stumbled at the finishing post. The ramifications of that remain to be seen. James McCarthy was a target until reality dawned that Cabaye would not fetch £25 million and Wigan would not sell for less than £12 million. Bafetimbi Gomis was close but could not be completed.
Just over 46,000 saw Newcastle struggle past an unadventurous and uninspired Fulham on Saturday, 5,000 less than watched the corresponding fixture just under five months ago. That is a drop of almost 1,000 fans a month. No club can afford that kind of haemorrhaging. More than 11 per cent of St James' Park was empty for the second home game of the season. There is growing unrest, borne out by those figures.
Ashley raged at last season's failure. A season after finishing fifth, Newcastle were perilously close to being relegated. Derek Llambias, the chief executive, resigned. Pardew was punished with the appointment of Kinnear, who is still the manager in waiting. The existing manager will not walk, so he treads an uneasy path. He was also handed an eight-year contract. There is a desire not to face another huge pay-off.
Kinnear, it can now be argued, has succeeded. 2013 will go down as the summer of smoke and mirrors. His words filled the space where signings were expected to go. Privately, Ashley fumed at having to spend a total of £33 million to land five players, Moussa Sissoko, Yoan Gouffran, Massadio Haidara, Mathieu Debuchy and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, in the January transfer window. Two of those deals were supposed to happen this summer but the threat of relegation increased their need (and their expense).
Newcastle were never going to be major players in the transfer market this summer. The bluster of Kinnear hid that unsettling truth to Newcastle supporters. There was never a pot of money to spend. Investment depended on Cabaye being sold for a fee of around £20 million. On Sunday night, the message inside the club was that the drawbridge on the France midfielder had been pulled up. They would not sell the player, no matter how great his desire to leave. Not getting a major fee for Cabaye - the biggest offer was £10.2 million from Arsenal - is Kinnear's only real failure. Pardew has been unsettled. Nothing has been spent.
The Newcastle manager's words yesterday were released as a statement and sit at such a polar opposite to the mood of a football club.
"We are delighted to have brought Loic Remy to the club in this window and we believe he will form an exciting and effective partnership with Papiss Cisse," his statement read. "Joe (Kinnear) has worked hard on numerous targets, particularly an additional offensive player. However some of the options that were available within our financial means were not as good as the players we already had and there is no point bringing in new players unless they can improve us and take us forward. We did the majority of our business in the January window, signing five excellent first team players. With the strong squad we have we should all approach the season in a positive, optimistic frame of mind."
Optimism. It is a rare currency to find on Tyneside right now.
What Pardew said after avoiding relegation last season:
"We're very, very lucky to have the support that we got and therefore we owe them a debt next year to make sure that we serve up a better standard of football and better quality of results.
"We showed we’ve got great players. We’ve had some performances out there which were top drawer. We know, in that (dressing) room, we’ve got 80 per cent of the team.
"We still need to make sure we get two or three recruits in there which take us forward. If we can do that, they’ll grow as well, and we’ll be much, much better next year.
"You hear managers taking about needing three players to make the perfect side – Arsene would probably say the same – but we genuinely, genuinely need a couple in that first team that complement the others."
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