NEWCASTLE UNITED have already buckled once, but January threatens to test their patience and principles, writes Stuart Rayner.
ALAN Pardew is determined to stick to his principles this month, but already he has twisted Mike Ashley’s arm to break one of the owner’s.
If Newcastle United are not careful they could be sitting ducks in this transfer window.
It is well known the Magpies are desperate to infuse an anaemic squad with fresh blood. The imminent sale of Demba Ba means other clubs will see them as having money burning holes in their pockets – even if the reality is little more than loose change.
It means when the phone rings from Pardew, pound signs will light up in the eyes of chairmen, managers and agents alike. As he addresses the media without his mobile ahead of the FA Cup tie with Brighton and Hove Albion, Pardew jokes he must have ignored “28 calls” yesterday morning.
But for all the criticisms of Ashley’s Newcastle, being able to be taken for a ride is not one of them.
You might argue it is why they are in this mess in the first place, but they showed in the summer they are prepared to walk away from a deal if the price is not right. Other chairmen must envy their restraint.
Mathieu Debuchy, Douglas and Andy Carroll were all targeted in August, but when their clubs asked too much, the Magpies took flight – temporarily in the case of the Lille right-back.
A £5bn television deal will wash through Premier League coffers next season, but Pardew is determined to guard it carefully because that is what Ashley pays him to do.
“It’s incredibly difficult with the new TV contract,” the manager reflected yesterday.
“We all recognise we want to keep the finances as they are and we don’t want them to escalate any more but that doesn’t really happen.
“They go up every year for whatever reason but there mustn’t be a significant jump because of the new TV deal, otherwise it’s going to go to players and agents and I think that’s wrong. I think chairmen recognise that and agents do as well. It’s just not right.”
It is an honourable stance, although Newcastle will probably end up doing more than most to put food and plenty more besides on the table of agents this month courtesy of the deal struck with Ba’s army of advisers when he joined from West Ham United 18 months ago.
If Ba’s agents did very well out of his £7.5m move to Chelsea, Newcastle did not. It is why Ashley will demand more frugality in the coming weeks. There is a school of thought that January is a bad time to buy, a period best left to panic signings because the sellers only take advantage of desperation to jack up prices and offload duffers.