Newcastle legend Alan Shearer has accused his former club of missing a 'glorious chance' to establish themselves as a rising force in the Premier League after last season's surprise fifth place finish.
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Manager Alan Pardew admits his side are now in the midst of a scrap for survival in the top flight after a run that has seen them lose six of their last seven games and Shearer pulled few punches when summing up Newcastle's plight.
"Newcastle missed a huge opportunity in the summer," he told the Sun. "Having punched above their weight last season and almost made it into the top four, this was the time to spend.
"The club was up and running again after so many years mired in uncertainty. There was once again a feel-good factor and even Mike Ashley was enjoying it, but he needed to put his hand in his pocket and strengthen with two or three quality players. The best time to buy is when you are in a position of strength."
Shearer has urged Newcastle owner Mike Ashley to splash the cash in the January transfer window, with Pardew admitting he is actively seeking targets to bolster a squad that has been exposed a lightweight in a season when Europa League matches have drained their resources.
"It's up to Ashley how much he spends, but just look at what Spurs did last summer," he said. "They pipped Newcastle to fourth place and went out and spent £57 million on six players. Newcastle spent £8.1m on three and got a fourth in on a free.
"Nowadays in the Premier League you need to spend £15m just to stand still. Newcastle needed to move forward again, particularly with the demands of the Europa League factored into the equation. They should be knocking on the door of the top four and occasionally getting in it.
"Sadly the momentum built up by Alan Pardew last season has been lost and what is going on at St James' right now is starting to look worrying."