Newcastle United Club Focus – Best maintains upbeat start to season

A brace of goals from Leon Best continued Newcastle United’s impressive start to the season. Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Fulham saw the Magpies remain unbeaten after four games and progress to sixth in the Premier League table. Going into the international break manager Alan Pardew can feel more than satisfied with his new look team’s start, especially given the loss of a number of the club’s top players. With just a few days remaining until the transfer window closes there is still a need to bolster a threadbare squad with some new faces.

Against Fulham striker Leon Best showed his worth to the side with two well taken goals to open his account for the season. There was a feeling that the Irishman was set to leave in the summer with the club apparently willing to listen to offers for the former Coventry City player. Best did not enjoy the best of games in the Carling Cup against Scunthorpe United but managed to retain his place in the starting XI at the expense of Demba Ba.

Best, however, showed on a number of occasions last season that he is capable of scoring in the top flight and could have an important role to play through this campaign. Pardew praised his performance saying: “He’s always given me a selection headache because he wants to score goals. He’s got his chance and he’s taken it. He was so unlucky last year because he got off to a flying start last term, scoring six goals in eight games or something, but then he got injured.

Given the loss of Joey Barton to Queens Park Rangers it was important that the Magpies showed they can cope without their talismanic figure. Last season they failed to win a game without Barton in the team but that statistic has now been put to bed. Frenchman Yohan Cabaye appears the closest to taking on the playmaker role and has made a solid start to life in the English top flight. Perhaps the biggest disappointment from the game was to concede late on to end over 250 minutes without letting in a league goal. It was particularly tough on Tim Krul, who made a string of fine saves to keep Fulham at bay.

Attention now turns to Wednesday, the close of the transfer window, in what could be a tense day for the Newcastle faithful. The club have been in need of a striker since the end of January while a left-back is also required despite Ryan Taylor’s recent heroics in that position. A deal for Dutch international left-back Erik Pieters is yet to be confirmed despite stories that an agreement has been reached between the two clubs. There could also be a move for Lyon’s Aly Cissokho as an alternative option. With Sochaux reporting Newcastle to FIFA over their conduct in pursuit of forward Modibo Maiga a fresh move appears unlikely. That means they must look at other options in a bid to improve their forward line.

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