x

Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

Islam Slimani arrives at Newcastle United amid uncertainty at Premier League club

Home draw with Burnley leaves club sitting 14th in table as manager Benitez's pleas for reinforcements are further justified by performance that delivers less than is required

Islam Slimani, left, moved to Newcastle United, while Riyad Mahrez stayed put at Leicester City. Oli Scarff / AFP
Islam Slimani, left, moved to Newcastle United, while Riyad Mahrez stayed put at Leicester City. Oli Scarff / AFP

Newcastle United will embark upon the final 13 games of the Premier League season with as many questions as answers after yet another intensely difficult transfer window drew to a close.

Wednesday night's 1-1 home draw with Burnley left the club sitting in 14th place in the table, but just a point clear of the drop zone as manager Rafa Benitez's pleas for reinforcements were further justified by a performance which promised much, but ultimately delivered less than was required.

Whether or not the club's January business could be described in the same way remains to be seen as a late scramble resulted in loan moves for Chelsea midfielder Kenedy, who was handed a debut against the Clarets, Leicester City striker Islam Slimani and Sparta Prague keeper Martin Dubravka, but no permanent signings.

If there was relief on Tyneside at the new arrivals, fans were largely underwhelmed, although Algeria international Slimani for one is determined to prove his acquisition was astute.

"I'm a goalscorer, and this is what this team needs - they need more goals," he told NUFC TV. "That is what I'll try and do during my time here, score as many goals as I possibly can.

"The key thing here is staying up and fighting for the team and that's exactly what I want to do. My objective here is to make this team better, to fight to remain in the Premier League and this is what I came to do and joined the club for."

Slimani's arrival could hardly have been more timely, despite the minor thigh problem which is likely to keep him out of Sunday's trip to Crystal Palace, as cut-price £5 million (Dh26m) summer signing Joselu endured a night to forget against Burnley.

He saw a tame first-half penalty saved by Nick Pope and then missed a gilt-edged chance to seal victory after Jamaal Lascelles had finally headed the Magpies in front, and his side was made to pay at the death when keeper Karl Darlow tipped substitute Sam Vokes's header on to the bar and saw the rebound ricochet off him and into the net.

______________

Read more

Richard Jolly: Giroud deal among five best Premier League transfers this winter

Watch: Mourinho furious at 'ridiculous' Man United mistakes in loss to Tottenham

Watch: Conte 'relaxed' about the future but 'worried' for Chelsea's top four chances

Richard Jolly: Manchester City target Laporte can tick every box for Guardiola

______________

The game was played out against the backdrop of fresh a protest from a sections of the St James's Park faithful in the shape of a banner displaying a quote from former manager Kevin Keegan exhorting fans not to give up and reminding them that the club is bigger than any individual, in this case owner Mike Ashley.

That is unlikely to sway the sportswear magnate, who unilaterally ended takeover talks with Amanda Staveley's PCP Capital Partners earlier this month, in the process accepting responsibility for another transfer window which ultimately fell short of expectation.

However, Burnley manager Sean Dyche was happy enough with his club's business despite not being able to add to swoops for Aaron Lennon and Georges-Kevin N'koudou Mbida as the deadline approached.

"We are what we are, everyone knows that, we have to run the club in the appropriate manner and that's what we choose to do, and it makes it difficult," he said.

"In certain situations, the money goes up and up and up and up and eventually you have to say, 'No, not for us'. It is what it is."