Newcastle's Yohan Cabaye: Sell Him To PSG And We Riot
Yesterday was just about as frustrating as it gets for a Newcastle United fan. A last minute defeat thanks to a handball by Wigan Athletic's Maynor Figueroa and a player with a potentially awful injury thanks to a horrendous, career-threatening challenge that was not even deemed a foul by referee Mark Halsey. The challenge was truly shocking and has provoked real anger amongst fans. The injury is also sad for Haidara, a player who has looked another good find for Newcastle; strong, powerful, quick and only 20-years-old. However, although the injuries are now once again beginning to mount, there is still cause for optimism at St James’.
Prior to the "DW Robbery", there was a big 24 hours on Tyneside last week. Just hours after Newcastle booked their place in the last eight of the Europa League, thanks to a dramatic last second Papiss Cisse winner, came the devastating news that playmaker Hatem Ben Arfa would be out for the rest of the season. The loss of Ben Arfa, the player seen by many as the one man capable of taking Newcastle to the next level following their recent resurgence, is a massive blow. With 33 points on the board and a European quarter final against Benfica, the potential return of Ben Arfa gave real hope of a top ten finish, and maybe even that elusive trophy.
So is all hope now lost for the Toon? Well, not just yet. You see, while Hatem is undoubtedly a match winner, there is one other man in the Newcastle dressing room who is more crucial; Yohan Cabaye. As long as he stays fit between now and the end of the season, then there is still hope.
With Yohan not playing due to knock picked up on Thursday night, yesterday’s game provided a classic example of Cabaye’s importance. While Newcastle failed to get the rub of the green decision-wise, their performance was not up to the standard of recent weeks. This disappointing performance was typical of that Newcastle fans have become used to when Cabaye is not in the team. Without him there to control and dictate Newcastle's midfield, the team looks disjointed, bereft of ideas; with players looking to each other for creativity that is badly lacking without Cabaye.
They sing a song at St. James' Park claiming that any potential sale of Cabaye will instigate a riot on Tyneside. One of the main reasons for this has been that since his return from injury he has been nothing short of fantastic in the Newcastle midfield. While he may not get the plaudits of the Silva’s or Wilshere’s of this league, make no mistake, Cabaye possesses just as much quality. Alan Pardew once commented how his impeccable close control allows him more time on the ball, enabling him to pick that perfect pass. This combined with his whirring football brain and his radar like passing is precisely what makes him so special. Cabaye gives Newcastle fluidity when he plays; he knits it all together and keeps the momentum going. He finds that right pass when it seems a dead end has been burrowed.
This form however presents a potential problem for us Newcastle fans though - the summer transfer window. The Newcastle team is built around him, his loss to injury over the autumn/winter was the crucial reason behind Newcastle’s slump; any potential sale would see us lose the brains behind our team. Worryingly, there have long been rumours that Sir Alex fancies him as the man to replace Paul Scholes long-term and bring life to his aging midfield. Be under no illusions, if any of the big boys come knocking, and if the price is right, he will be sold.
The way Newcastle are now structured has become an example to many other teams as to how best run your club in correct climate. While this approach has reaped great rewards for Newcastle in recent times there is one massive flaw as far as the fans are concerned. It is fundamentally built around players being sold for huge profits, a la’ Andy Carroll and Demba Ba.
If Newcastle do sell Cabaye then it will be for huge money, problem for Newcastle will be however; how do you replace the heartbeat of your team, and how long can they keep pulling these rabbits out of hats, unearthing cheap gem, after cheap gem?? A reasonably priced potential replacement for a player as special as Cabaye will surely be Graham Carr’s biggest challenge yet; as good as Carr is, this is a challenge I fear that not even he can source a solution to.
In the short term however, all hope is certainly far from lost. With Newcastle almost safe in the league, the fans are relishing a trip to "the real" Stadium of Light against Benfica, and as long as Yohan stays fit; it is the Europa League that now must be the priority. On their day, (and provided Mark Halsey isn’t officiating) the Magpies can give anyone a game; if a Newcastle team inspired by Cabaye could finally deliver a trophy to St James' then any potential sale talk of the star man and the Newcastle hierarchy really will have a riot on their hands.