Glenn Roeder must be ruthless in the summer transfer market if Newcastle are to progress next season into a top six team.
Their first duty will be to shore up the defense — which has been weak for a number of years.
Players who will be leaving include center back Craig Moore — who wants to play in the new Australia A league — and since his contract is up he will be a free agent in the summer. While Roeder may well extend Titus Bramble’s contract – we have to hope that is just a ploy to get a transfer fee for him in the summer. Titus can play great one week and then give a silly goal away the next – and over the last five years he has not shown enough to be kept at Newcastle.
So let’s assume we sell Bramble (once his contract has been extended) and can get $2M for him — remember he is still only 25 so that should be possible. Teams interested include Portsmouth and Ipswich.
In defense — which I will cover today (the rest will be in a separate article on Soccerlens tomorrow) we need reinforcements at center back and left back.
We are very well off at goalkeeper, with Given, Harper and young Krul. We can assume that we can let Pavel Srnicek go — unless they want to send Dutchman Tim Krul out on loan for the season.
At center back we are losing two (Bramble and Moore) and I assume we will take up the option of buying Oguchi Onyewu (“Gooch”) — assuming he continues his good form through the end of the season, which I expect him to.
Who are the center backs available?
Roeder has made it clear he likes Curtis Davies of WBA and Anton Ferdinand of West Ham — two excellent young players.
To me either of these players would be good buys — and assuming West Ham get relegated – then Ferdinand would be available at a reasonable price (say $4M).
Let’s say we can get Ferdinand, who has just turned 22 and he would be a good acquisition.
Although Roeder has indicated he wants players under 25 we will need some experience at center back and I still believe that getting Sylvain Distin — who played for Newcastle four years ago — would be great — particularly since he is a free agent in the summer and would cost nothing.
So — at center back we can allow Bramble and Moore to leave and get Ferdinand and Distin in for a net amount of $2M.
We have been weak at left back all season where Babayaro has been out injured for almost half the time – and for whatever reason Olivier Bernard has never played for us.
We have to assume Bernard will be let go as a free agent in the summer so who are the left backs available?
Gareth Bale is available from Southampton — but in reality — anything over $8M would be a ridiculous price for Newcastle to pay for him.
While Gabriele Heinze may be available from Manchester United the player I’ve always liked is Wayne Bridge from Chelsea. It’s also stupid that England’s best two left backs are at the same club and not playing regularly (Bridge and Cole).
So let’s assume we can get Bridge —for say $4M — and that would be good for Newcastle, England and Wayne Bridge himself — and that will settle the left back spot once and for all at Newcastle — with Babayaro there as a good backup.
At right back I like Nobby Solano (assume we will extend his contract by two years) and we have a host of young players — like Taylor, Huntington, Ramage and Edgar who can also fill the right back position – so since we are well endowed in that position – we can allow Stephen Carr to move on.
Celtic are reportedly interested — so let’s assume we can get our money back on Carr ($2M). For the full backs assume we let Carr and Bernard go and acquire Bridge for a net outlay of $2M.
In summary — for Newcastle’s defense out go Moore, Bramble, Carr and Bernard and in come Gooch, Ferdinand, Distin and Bridge.
Newcastle fans (and anybody else) – let me know what you think. To me it sounds like good business, and our defense will be improved AND the average age will drop – and all for a net outlay of around $4M.