Newcastle in no hurry

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The Independent Online
You could almost hear the figures whirling through the minds of football chairmen up and down the country. "I've got the money to look at any player in the world now," Kevin Keegan, the Newcastle manager, said in the wake of Andy Cole's £7m sale t o Manchester United. Meanwhile, clubs were adding £1m to the price of their prized assets.

With a large proportion of Old Trafford's coffers rattling in his pocket, Keegan can afford any striker in the country, although an immediate replacement for Cole, whose fee (£6m plus Keith Gillespie) set a British record, seems unlikely.

For a start, none of the logical target clubs seems inclined to release their strikers and the Newcastle manager has said he will not be rushed: "I won't be forced into corners. I won't be pressurised into buying someone quickly."

Which did absolutely nothing to quell speculation, particularly among Newcastle supporters, who appear to need a purchase as a panacea. It was in keeping with the fevered atmosphere on Tyneside yesterday that Southampton's Matthew Le Tissier was rumouredto have had been spotted at Newcastle airport, and later in the city centre.

Le Tissier's manager, Alan Ball, rejected the notion: "It's total rubbish," he said. "There is no way we would let him go to Newcastle. He's down here training and even Matt Le Tissier cannot be in two places at the same time."

This followed a denial by Crystal Palace's Alan Smith that Keegan had made a £4m bid for Chris Armstrong last Thursday, while Nottingham Forest's Frank Clark also said there had not been an approach for Stan Collymore.

However, unless Newcastle start to win again, something they have done only once in their last 12 matches, the pleading of the Tyneside public for a new face could become irresistible. That face could well come from abraod, knowing Keegan's reluctance topay inflated prices for domestic players.

Forest, short of cash, might be more reasonable and the Newcastle manager already has a direct route to Collymore. Paul Stretford, Cole's agent, happens to represent Collymore too.