NEWCASTLE United have been backed to make an impression on the Premier League – despite the lack of an incoming No9.
The club angered fans by failing to sign a striker before Wednesday night’s transfer deadline.
Attempts to sign a number of players, including Bryan Ruiz, Modibo Maiga and Papiss Demba Cisse, came to nothing to the frustration of supporters – and manager Alan Pardew.
And the famous No9 jersey, last donned by Andy Carroll before his January sale to Liverpool, will remain unworn.
But former Newcastle defender Olivier Bernard –who made 102 appearances for the club after moving from Lyon in 2000 – is confident the club can still compete.
And Parisien Bernard – whose own career was ended prematurely by injury – has confidence in his French countrymen, United having signed five players from across the Channel this summer.
“I’m pretty happy with what they’ve done (in the transfer market), but obviously we still want a No9,” Bernard said.
“I think we’re good enough through the midfield to really play well.
“We have good footballers through the midfield. I feel Newcastle will be strong enough. We could be stronger, but we’re strong enough to compete.”
Midfielder Yohan Cabaye, signed from French double winners Lille, has already caught the eye, while Bernard rates winger Sylvain Marveaux highly.
“Yohan Cabaye has done really well,” added Bernard. “He’s tidy player. He’s not afraid of a tackle, and he’s very clever.
“He switches the play, and I believe he and Cheik Tiote can be one of the best pairs in the Premier League.
“I think Marveaux has proved he can live with the squad. He is respected in France – Charles N’Zogbia had to play left-back for France because of him.
“He’s not just a squad player, and I think he can do a lot of good things for the club.”
SEE Friday’s Mail for full story