In recent years Newcastle have spent big money in the transfer market but not very often on defensive reinforcements. When they have splashed out on defenders some of these have become catastrophic buys (Jean-Alain Boumsong for $8.5M from Rangers is just one example).
Certainly the results — not only this season — but for several seasons — have shown that the defense is the weakest part of Newcastle’s team.
If Newcastle is to emerge from the mediocrity of the last few seasons — and aim to be a top four side – they must spend wisely in the summer to shore up their woeful defense.
Make no mistake we have to aim to be a top four team to continue to match the top teams in the Premiership.
As Liverpool’s great Bill Shankly once said “Aim for the sky and you’ll reach the ceiling. Aim for the ceiling and you’ll stay on the floor.”
The point is Newcastle must aim for the top four and maybe, just maybe, we will make the top six.
First of all it we need to have a clear out of some of the current defenders at Newcastle.
A whole back four seems certain to leave in the summer.
Three of these are out of contract; Craig Moore (center back), who is probably off to his home country Australia, Titus Bramble (center back), whose five year stay is up at Newcastle and shouldn’t be retained because of his inconsistency, and Olivier Bernard (left back), whose one year contract is up and strangely has never played for the first team this season.
The other player we need to move on is Stephen Carr (right back), who is injured most of the time, but whose play is now mediocre at best.
With these four players unloaded and off the salary roll we can then import a new back four and it certainly looks like good players will be available.
I will assume we pick up the option on Oguchi Onyewu (Gooch), currently on loan from Standard Leige. He has looked a solid center back when he has played and offers height, heading ability and discipline at the back. I assume he would cost about $4M.
At right back there is American Jonathon Spector, of West Ham, who has just turned 21 and was on Manchester United’s books a couple of years back. $1M should secure his services. He is young and possesses good ability and excellent promise for the future to challenge Nobby Solano for the right back position.
Since we are short of experience at the back Sylvain Distin of Manchester City, who has lots of premiership experience, is a free agent and could be captured for nothing to shore up the center of defense.
He can certainly help our youngsters in defense (Taylor, Huntington, Ramage, Edgar) learn the ropes and would be an excellent acquisition. Distin played at Newcastle under Sir Bobby Robson in the 2001-2002 season before choosing Manchester City (and Kevin Keegan) over Newcastle.
Anton Ferdinand will most likely be made available by West Ham, assuming they get relegated, and could be captured for a reasonable fee in the range of $5M. Curtis Davis may also be available but my hunch is that West Brom will want silly money for him.
At left back I still hold out hope that we can entice Wayne Bridge from Chelsea and offer him regular premiership football, which he certainly will not get at Chelsea. Wayne Bridge would be great for Newcastle. Something in the range of $5M should secure his services and he would be first choice with Babayaro as back-up.
If Bridge is not available then Leighton Baines of Wigan would be another good choice for the club and he has only just turned 22.
If we don’t buy one midfielder or attacker in the summer we will still be well stocked with Dyer, Parker, Emre, Butt, Duff, Milner, N’Zogbia, Pattison, Owen, Martins, Ameobi and Sibierski .
However, I do expect some other players to come in during the summer and Steve Sidwell from Reading, on a free transfer, would be good business and he is still only 24.
But defense is where we need to strengthen as the highest priority and then Newcastle may eventually start to deliver what they keep promising their supporters — a winning team – and we can erase the memories of no trophies for 38 years.
What do you think — which players may be available and not included here?