News that we will not be entering the January market for a new striker has sent predictable waves of concern through the ever ambitious Newcastle United fan base.
And rightfully so, most of us will be thinking. The Carroll money is still there, and until a good chunk of that is put toward a tangible investment (undersoil heating and agent fees just won’t cut it) we will all continue to query its whereabouts. When will we spend? It’s the question we’ve all been asking since the summer, the one we’re asking again with the window looming, and the one we’ll continue to ask until a new number nine arrives at the club.
However, it is not the question I’ve been asking myself since Alan Pardew braced us for what could be another fruitless transfer window. What I’ve been asking myself is – when you put aside the remnants of the £35mil burning a hole in Mike’s cavernous pocket – do we really need a new striker?
The obvious answer to that is yes, if we want to progress. I should rephrase the question. Do we really need a striker this January?
Firstly, I’m going to acknowledge Demba Ba. Wow. The bloke would waltz into most top flight teams right now, and I don’t think any fan of any club would argue that picking up the Senegal international on a free has been the standout business of the summer. The issue Pardew is seemingly faced with is who to play alongside, or indeed behind Ba.
With Ben Arfa now nearing full fitness, most of us are calling for his rehab to come to an end and for ‘Le Wizard’ to slot into the number 10 position we’ve been lead to believe he will eventually make his own. Ba and Benny – a frightening partnership in prospect. The only potential problem I can see with it is Ba finding some of the deeper spaces he likes to operate in filled by Ben Arfa.
As a result, will Demba naturally (or indeed be asked to) move higher up the pitch? Will he end up playing the target man role that Pardew likes to deploy Leon Best in? See where I’m going with this?
Best, whether you like of loathe the lad, is a target man. He frustrates, yes, but on his day he’ll win 9 out of 10 headers, bring the ball down on his chest with relative ease, allow his team mates to catch up with the play, and provide those all important knockdowns when the defence decides to go route one. Is it possible that Benny and Best are ideally suited to bring the best out of each other?
As Toonsy has already highlighted in another article, Demba will be away for a maximum of five games. And let’s face it, it’s likely to be less than that. Personally, I think we just about have enough about us to plug the sizeable gap Ba is going to leave when he jets off to the Equatorial Guinea.
For me, I’d rather see Pardew’s January pocket money spent on a solid Centre Half rather than a striker who is going to come in and be expected to lead the line for a month or so, when the likelihood is it will take him that long to bed in anyway.
Benny and Best until Ba gets back? Good enough for me. That is unless Ba picks up an injury on a dodgey pitch over there – then we’re knackered!
Thanks to Phil for contributing this article.