Newcastle frustrated by failure to sign striker

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The Independent Football

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew was left frustrated last night as his search for a striker ended in defeat.

Having spent much of the summer insisting they were not going to be held to ransom over their targets, the Magpies were left high and dry as their high-risk strategy once again failed to pay dividends.

The club, as in past transfer windows, tabled a series of last-gasp bids, this time for FC Twente frontman Bryan Ruiz and Birmingham defender Liam Ridgewell, but as in the past with 11th-hour attempts to land the likes of Kieran Richardson and Charles N'Zogbia, it all came to nothing.

Owner Mike Ashley's tough stance on what he is prepared to pay both in terms of transfer fees and wages may be laudable as he tries to make the club self-sufficient, but disgruntled fans cannot understand where the proceeds of the sales of Andy Carroll, Kevin Nolan and Jose Enrique, which amount to around £45million, have gone.

A further proportion of that cash was invested on Tuesday night when the club snapped up Inter Milan full-back Davide Santon in a deal understood to be worth £5million, and Charlton goalkeeper Rob Elliot.

That, on top of the outlay on Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba, Sylvain Marveaux, Mehdi Abeid and Gabriel Obertan and the agents' fees and salaries covered by those deals, means there has been significant expenditure at St James' Park.

However, supporters had expected significant investment in a long-term replacement for £35million Carroll - Pardew has repeatedly insisted every penny would be ploughed back into the club after the striker was not replaced on the final day of the last transfer window.

As a result, there has been a sense of expectation on Tyneside throughout the summer as Newcastle were persistently linked with Kevin Gameiro and Gervinho, and more recently, Modibo Maiga and Papiss Demba Cisse.

Ultimately, the prolonged pursuit eventually ended with a whimper and left supporters wondering about all the promises.

A squad which was thin last season has been shorn of Nolan, Enrique and Joey Barton, whose departure for QPR freed up the best part of a further £3million in wages for the final year of his contract.

Seven players have come in - Abeid is seen as a future prospect - but the lack of a proven striker means that Shola Ameobi, Leon Best, who scored both goals in a 2-1 Barclays Premier League victory over Fulham on Sunday, Peter Lovenkrands and Ba will have to lead the fight in attack until January at least.

Pardew, who spent much of the summer asking media and fans to judge the club on September 1, will now have to bear the brunt of the backlash over the failure to deliver in terms of a striker.

Earlier this month, he insisted the club had to adopt a strategic approach to the final few days of the window.

He said: "You need to have some sort of strategic planning about what you are doing and some sort or game-plan, and hopefully we are going to call that right.

"But you can get something out of the woodwork which throws it into disarray and you need Plan B and then you need Plan C.

"We are hoping we stick to Plan A, but we will see."

It appears that a Plan D was also needed.