The last goal they have managed was a controversial stoppage-time winner against Crystal Palace courtesy of Papiss Cisse, which was incidentally his first goal of 2014. Unfortunately, optimistic talk of this goal proving a fillip for the Senegalese has been quashed, with the injury of Loic Remy also coinciding with a barren run since.
Furthermore, the chances of the French striker extending his stay at St. James’ Park are unlikely and he appears inclined to instead seek a move to a club with the European ambitions that the Magpies cannot offer. Newcastle’s striking department will also be further ravaged in the summer with the departure of Shola Ameobi and the end of a thus far disappointing loan arrangement with Luuk De Jong.
Much consideration must thus be given to the upcoming transfer window to revitalise a squad which has been reeling from the loss of Cabaye and the alienation of Ben Arfa, alongside some of the squads more creative players. Consequently, the increasingly dour flavour of their attacking play has ignited the ire of the fans, highly critical of the more direct approach that Pardew has favoured although whether as a deliberate tactical decision or more of a solution to a sub-par and disinterested midfield being subject to debate.
However, the most glaring problem that has to be addressed come May is, at least numerically, the frontline. To this end, a case could be made for Monaco forward Emmanuel Rivière being a perfect candidate as one of the striking reinforcements that Newcastle surely have to invest in.
First of all, he has a respectable striking record of 13 goals in 31 matches in all competitions for Monaco this season, with his 10th goal in the league being the winner in a 1-0 victory over Stade Rennais which delayed PSG’s inevitable march on the Ligue 1 crown.
He also boasts considerable pace to latch on to through balls, which he often finishes and tops off with a flamboyant acrobatic celebration. In addition to functioning as a centre forward, he can also operate down the wings perhaps in lieu of Ben Arfa at Pardew’s discretion.
Another factor that swings the situation in Newcastle’s favour is how Rivière might find himself surplus to requirements. Monaco, currently 2nd-placed in the league, will at some point aspire towards being strong Champions League contenders, which will call for the recruitment of players more of the calibre of those they have already brought in with their considerable finances- Falcao and Joao Moutinho and less of that of the Frenchman. They will also hardly find themselves content with playing second fiddle to PSG and perhaps Rivière should not as well by seeking a move away.
On the other hand, is a move for the player advisable at all? The hefty £10 million that Newcastle will expect to part with in exchange for a striker who has had, overall, a negligible impact at Monaco with a total of 22 goals in 67 games thus far appears to be more fitting of the £4 million the French club paid for his services.
They might be better off making a concerted effort to exercise the buyoff clause for a similar amount in Remy’s contract and convince him of a future at the club.
In any case, perhaps Newcastle’s problems have to be solved at a deeper level first before any dealings in the transfer market take place. They first have to be sure that going forward, they settle on what sort of playing style they wish to aspire to, which will play to the strengths of their current squad.
They also have to determine where the malaise lies- can the rot truly be stemmed by throwing money at the problem to bolster the squad under the current manager and continuing to play under his tactical identity or should they realistically consider the axe as many among the Newcastle faithful have suggested and weigh up their transfer options from there on?
This in turn hinges on their objectives for the coming season- are they content with the pragmatic football and mid-table finish that Pardew can provide? Or do they prefer taking their chances of breaking into Europe once more? These are some of the questions that should be addressed before Newcastle move in for another French acquisition that threatens to flatter to deceive.