LONDON ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06: Demba Ba of West Ham United runs with the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Birmingham City at the Boleyn Ground on February 6 2011 in London England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Newcastle United players will report to training early next week, and to be honest with you, the squad doesn't look as...different as I thought it would. Departed are Kevin Nolan and a few inconsequential pieces, but for the sake of my sanity I'm going to have to assume that at least one of Joey Barton, Jonas Gutierrez, and Jose Enrique Sanchez will be gone as well. Arriving on Tyneside will be Yohan Cabaye, Sylvain Marveaux, and Demba Ba (along with some new young faces likely destined for the reserve squad).
Of course, if you ask Alan Pardew, he'll tell you that Hatem Ben Arfa and Dan Gosling should be treated as new transfers as well, since they couldn't be counted on much at all last season. Pardew does make a good point: If Ben Arfa and Gosling are both healthy (and yes, that's a big if), this team just got a whole lot better. Both players would represent significant upgrades at their positions and make everyone around them better.
However, I can't shake the feeling that Pardew's statement is meant to distract us all from the gigantic, overweight elephant in the room: Mike Ashley's 35 million pound promise has gone largely unused. The transfer window is not close at all to being over, but it seems that most of the big dominoes have already fallen, and the Magpies are faced with a familiar question as they approach training camp: Who will score goals for us? I love the Demba Ba signing, but do we as supporters really expect that to be enough?
We're left hoping that Erding or Sigthorsson or a similarly profiled player will fall to us, or that Alan Pardew has something incredible up his sleeve, but his recent comments don't give me a lot of hope. What do you think? Am I being needlessly pessimistic here, or do we have something of a crisis on our hands?