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What Will The New Year Bring For The Toon?

Saturday 10th December 2011
Despite an impressive start to the season Newcastle United have suffered two defeats in three games despite gallant displays, and have also lost Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini to injury.

Newcastle are in a defensive crisis with the only recognised centre backs in the side being Tamas Kader, an inexperienced young prospect, alongside the versatile James Perch, who is not so popular on Tyneside. Taylor is out for the season with an Achilles injury, while Coloccini looks set to be out for a month.

Having lost the heart and soul of their defence that conceded only 8 goals in its first eleven games this season, Newcastle now look set for a gruelling Christmas break with visits to Bolton and Liverpool on the agend. They go into Saturday's fixture at newly promoted Norwich with a thread bare defence and with the absence of Cheik Tiote and Danny Guthrie creating a vacancy in the centre of midfield. Dan Gosling looks set to be in contention to make a first start while Shola Ameobi may come in after an impressive display against Chelsea and Jonas Gutierrez returns from suspension.

Many doubts have been cast on Tyneside over Tiote's injury, and a conspiracy that he is set to leave in January is floating about St James Park (now the Sports Direct Arena). Mike Ashley's controversial reign of the club casts many doubts in Geordies' minds as to whether he is going to invest or digest in the January transfer window. Alan Pardew has expressed his desire to strengthen and the common idea would be to bring in a centre half and the promised centre forward since Andy Carroll's departure, which brought cash Ashley has seemed reluctant to invest into the squad.

Newcastle are reportedly still interested in Luuk De Jong, of FC Twente, and Modibo Maiga, of Sochaux in France. This needs to be a priority for Newcastle if they want to compete in the higher reaches of the Premiership, with Demba Ba departing for the African Cup of Nations in late January. With a further issue being a threadbare defence many believe Newcastle are casting their eyes on the continent aiming to pay a lesser fee than they would in the Premier league. Le Toon are again linked with several names in France and many fans will hope they can unearth a gem like talismanic playmaker Yohan Cabaye, who signed from French Champions Lille in the summer. The recent availability of Alex may alert the Toon although it is likely he will seek a move abroad, but rumours suggest Harry Redknapp is seeking his signature.

It will be interesting to see where Newcastle lie come January, with their depleted squad.The Geordies are more pessimistic than optimistic about maintaining their top four status. Realistically, a European finish would be an excellent achievement for probably the best Newcastle side we have seen for years since Sir Bobby Robson's reign on Tyneside that took them to the dizzy heights of the Champions League. If Newcastle can come out of the January transfer window with a stronger squad than they went in with it will be a massive bonus for Alan Pardew's side and an incentive to push on and propel the club to where they belong with their second to none loyal Geordie support.
Ben Smith

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