State Of The Toon, January 2011

Newcastle United are in the middle of only their second win streak of the season. It is a win streak that could put them over the top to meet their season points goal to secure safety in the English Premiership. All they have to do is win two more games, and they should be guaranteed 38 points come early May. In fact, they're currently on track to earn 48 points, which last season would have earned them 11th place in the table.

I think it would be a tremendous accomplishment if Newcastle could finish in 10th place. But this is no time to be greedy or unrealistic.

It's January. The transfer window is open. And so it is time to buy new talent and start thinking about who to re-sign come June.

The first necessary signing is complete. Newcastle needed to lock-in their newest midfield acquisition, Hatem Ben Arfa, who was acquired on loan from French side, Olympique de Marseille. He should fully recover from his horrific leg injury, which he suffered in early October. And at age 23, he should be retained by the club so he can play his prime years on Tyneside. I think he can be a starter, as he has already shown his fearlessness and ability to score. He's the kind of player you want as part of your winning foundation, just like Jonás Gutiérrez , José Enrique, and Andy Carroll.

Ideally, there should be two more signings - a defender and a midfielder. Newcastle have a full roster already. But if I were the manager, I would want to take the opportunity to acquire younger, faster talent for a European cup run in 2013. That is, if the budget allowed (and we know the transfer budget is slim).

There's a rumor floating around that Newcastle are interested in buying 28 year-old Uraguayan international defender, Mauricio Vitorino, who currently plays professionally in Chile.

But the confirmed news concerns acquiring a young midfielder. Newcastle are currently in talks with Birmingham City to purchase 25 year-old Sebastian Larsson, who in my mind, would permanently replace James Perch as a substitute right midfielder.

As for players who should leave, James Perch is a given. Alan Smith is probably another. At £60,000 Pounds per week. Smith is too expensive to keep on the sidelines, and he has been displaced by Hatem Ben Arfa and Cheik Tioté in the midfield. With Smith's original club, Leeds, comtemplating a buy offer, Newcastle might soon have a practical way to liquidate an underperforming player.

The signing of either Vitorino or Larsson would bring in healthy talent at a reasonable cost. Toon fans should keep an eye on the news and hope for at least one more signing before the transfer window closes on January 31st.