Former Newcastle United boss Kevin Keegan has hailed the efforts of Alan Pardew in holding onto his current crop of stars this summer.
Following an impressive season last year in which Newcastle finished fifth in the Premier League and secured European football in the process, Pardew was handed the tricky task of keeping his best players at the club, with some of Europe's biggest clubs rumoured to be lurking.
“I think it's a surprise to most people that he has been able to hold onto his players,” said ESPN analyst Keegan.
“If they had got bids which were of the players' valuations, they'd sell. The main thing is that they've got to keep hold of [Yohan] Cabaye and [Cheick] Tiote.”
Earlier in the summer, rumours circulated regarding the futures of forward pair Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse, and with the transfer window still open until the end of August, Newcastle could still contend with late bids from interested clubs. However, as Toon hero Keegan continues, the club could afford to lose one player without disaster.
“They may still sell one player and it won't be a disaster,” he said. “They could lose Ba and keep Cisse, or even lose Cisse and keep Ba. Cabaye and Tiote remain for me the key to Newcastle United. They had an incredible season last year. Even the most positive Newcastle fan wouldn't have expected them to finish where they did.”
Pardew will certainly look to continue his good work at St. James's Park, and as Keegan comments, if the club continue in the same vein of form their displayed last season, they could be looking at a potential top four berth.
“I Newcastle are on the fringe of the top four, but the problem now is that you ask whether they are good enough to become a top four side.
“There are four sides which are better than them, but after that, I don't see many sides which are better than Newcastle United.”