Why Newcastle United Must Show Ambition to Sign Loic Remy

Dan SheridanContributor IFebruary 25, 2014

Newcastle United's Loic Remy celebrates his goal against  West Ham United during their English Premier League soccer match at Upton Park, London, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
Sang Tan/Associated Press

There was a smile as wide as the River Tyne on Alan Pardew’s face following Newcastle United’s dramatic victory over Aston Villa on Sunday, but there was candour behind his contentment.

Loic Remy’s injury-time winner handed the Magpies only their second win in 10 games, and there was no avoiding the relief that engulfed St. James’ Park at the final whistle.

But as the storm clouds that have plagued the club in recent weeks cleared, a short, sharp truth was being aired behind the scenes that has long since troubled the Geordie supporters.

Keeping top scorer Remy beyond this season’s loan spell will be an uphill battle, and Pardew knows it.

The Frenchman’s injury-time winner was his 12th Premier League goal in 21 starts this term, and in an interview with Sky Sports, the Toon boss underlined the challenge he faces to land the 27-year-old permanently.

Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew
Newcastle United boss Alan PardewScott Heppell/Associated Press

“He is going to be hot property and will get a lot of headlines,” he said. “His goals could make it harder to buy him.”

In a little under 25 words, the former West Ham United and Southampton manager summed up, perhaps inadvertently, the harsh reality facing Newcastle and their loyal fans.

And it is the very same reality that took Andy Carroll and Jose Enrique to Liverpool, Demba Ba to Chelsea and, more recently, Yohan Cabaye to Paris Saint-Germain.

Under owner Mike Ashley, lack of ambition has been an accusation frequently fired in United’s direction, and many wonder whether their current placing of eighth is the height of his objective. 

Magpies skipper Fabricio Coloccini believes the Magpies can still qualify for Europe
Magpies skipper Fabricio Coloccini believes the Magpies can still qualify for EuropeStu Forster/Getty Images

In the players’ eyes, Europa League qualification is not completely off the table, and in an interview with Simon Bird from Mirror Football, the notion was aired by captain Fabricio Coloccini following his welcome return from injury.   

But elsewhere at the club, entry to the competition is seen as hindrance rather than an achievement, and their approach to domestic cup competitions follows a similarly uninspiring path.

First and foremost, Premier League survival—and the riches that it presents—is what Ashley craves, and it is this narrow outlook that continues to hamper Pardew’s long-term plans.

The 52-year-old spoke of strengthening in an interview with talkSPORT recently, and vowed to make good use of the “nice little kitty” apparently at his disposal following Cabaye’s big-money move to the French capital. 

But those words must be drowned out by actions once the current campaign has ended to appease an increasingly dubious fan base as well as the host of internationals in the dressing room.

Capturing Remy, and handing him the club’s famous No. 9 shirt, would underline a positive and long-overdue message following an unnerving lack of activity in previous transfer windows.

And it would also instill belief in a group of players whose efforts will rarely be more appreciated than they are by the 52,000 people who cram into St. James’ Park every other week.

Some of the greatest strikers in English football’s history have plied their trade and scored their goals in the black and white of Newcastle, and few doubt Remy’s ability to join such esteemed company.

But if he is to be signed on a permanent basis from Queens Park Rangers, the club’s sights will need to be raised higher than mid table, and the manager encouraged to develop his squad, not decimate it.