There’s a story surrounding the appointment of Alan Pardew at Newcastle United, which claims that the former West Ham boss was given the Toon job after striking up a conversation with owner Mike Ashley in a casino.
But, regardless of whether that anecdote is one to file under fact or fiction, the growing reality is that Pardew may be advised to take a gamble on an out-of-contract defender if he is to avoid being sacked by the Toon chief.
According to a report from The Independent, the Newcastle manager has two Premier League games, against Southampton and Hull City, to save his skin after Ashley and those behind the scenes at St James’ Park grew frustrated at the Magpies’ form on the pitch.
The Toon have picked up just two points from the first nine available and with five goals conceded across just three Premier League games, the team’s defensive frailties are a real cause for concern.
Newcastle shipped 59 goals across 38 Premier League games last season, giving them the joint-third worst defensive record of those teams remaining in the division.
But despite as many as nine new additions arriving at St James’ Park, the club has failed to bring in a centre-back, instead allowing £8m signing Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa to leave on loan to AS Roma.
Desperate times call for desperate measures and while the transfer window may now be closed, Pardew does have a handful of options available to him, with several big-name defenders currently without clubs and available to sign for nothing.
While former West Brom and Uruguay captain Diego Lugano represents one option, Pardew could be better advised to seek out a deal for the South American stopper who is five years his senior.
James Rodriguez may have won the majority of the plaudits for Colombia at the World Cup but another of his teammates also stood out for equal praise: Mario Yepes.
Now 38, the defender was in imperious form in Brazil, featuring for Los Cafeteros in every minute of their World Cup campaign.
An experienced pro, who has played at the highest level for Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan among others, it was his spell with the Rossoneri that helped him to continue playing late into his 30s and could make him the ideal short-term solution for the Toon.
Released by Atalanta at the end of last season, Yepes has made no secret of his desire to enjoy a Premier League swansong.
It may only be a case of papering over the cracks at St James’ Park, but with Pardew in the firing line, it is certainly a risk worth taking.
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