NEWCASTLE United ended a positive week by signing France midfielder Moussa Sissoko and retaining the services of Fabricio Coloccini, who has been persuaded that the needs of the United ‘family’ are just as important as his own.
An upbeat and determined Alan Pardew proclaimed that United have been “bold” in signing four players this week – the latest of whom was Toulouse’s highly-rated midfielder Sissoko, who joins on a six-and-a-half-year contract.
The club brought forward the signing of the attacking midfielder from a planned summer swoop in a definite acknowledgement that their precarious Premier League predicament required urgent action.
But as much as Sissoko’s signing is a real statement of intent, it is the news that Coloccini will be a Newcastle player until the end of the season at least that has pleased Pardew.
The Argentina international met Pardew on Thursday afternoon and having been boxed in by Newcastle’s hardline stance, it became apparent that there would be no easy get out for the 31-year-old defender.
Pardew is adamant that this is no marriage of convenience though. Announcing that he would be retained as captain, the Newcastle boss said that it was an appeal to Coloccini’s good nature that persuaded him not to go down the nuclear route of either retiring from football or going AWOL to solve a personal crisis.
“He appreciates the situation we are in,” Pardew said. “I think he understands the responsibility he has to this football club.
“People lost their jobs the last time this football club were relegated, ten or 11 people.
“It’s not life or death if you go down, but it’s life changing for a football team. We need our captain to lead us out.”
Dismissing suggestions that Coloccini might complete the rest of the season under sufferance, the Newcastle boss said: “You know Colo very well, he wouldn’t play if he didn’t think he was right. The Reading game was a water-shed moment for me, we needed to sort it out, and it has been.
“It's a situation where me and Colo have been on a personal journey to make sure he understands that he has a big responsibility to the fans and to families at this club.
“We were relegated before and people lost their jobs here. It means we need our captain and I'm pleased to say he has accepted that.”
Sissoko’s signing brings United's quota of French players up to eleven, while five new arrivals in this window raised the ire of Arsène Wenger, who complained about clubs changing their entire squad in January.
Pardew completely rejected suggestions that they had been panicked by their poor form into action. Every player who has signed has been thoroughly scouted – with only two, Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran, originally scheduled to be the subject of moves in the summer.
“If you look at the signings closely there isn’t a quick fix in there which is what some teams have tried to do in the past when they are in a relegation position,” he said.
“We’ve been bold, we’ve got players who have to understand the Premier League is different, they’ve got to settle quickly. There is a vision from these players, they’re not going to be moved on in the summer, they are here for the next three or four years.”
Newcastle are still waiting to hear if they have failed to obtain Category One Academy status, which would leave them open to approaches for their best players from Sunderland and Middlesbrough, who have both earned the gold standard, and cost them around £300,000 in funding.
United have appealed against the decision to award them Category Two status – understood to have come after being marked down on the legacy and ethos part of the criteria, not on the facilities side – but the FA say that has yet to be ruled on.