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This Man Can Be Newcastle's Very Own Geordie Xavi

by Adam Clery
25 October 2011 15 Comments

The natives were restless after Geordie boy Andy Carroll wasn't replaced, but new Frog on the Tyne Yohan Cabaye has put the va-va-voom back into Newcastle.

Newcastle underwent more upheaval during the summer much to the fans’ chagrin, but the capture of Yohan Cabaye has heralded a French-inspired renaissance.

Given, Bassong, Bramble, Duff, Enrique, N’Zogbia, Barton, Jenas, and a certain Mr Carroll. They all left Newcastle United in the hope of bigger and better things, and today they’re all staring up at us in the table. Most of them from a bench.

Bet you didn’t see this coming, did you?

After a(nother) summer of intense turmoil and upheaval, that I’m sure was of great enjoyment to most of you, Newcastle United sit 4th in the Premier League as they approach that all important 10th game of the season. The 10th game being important because, only after that does Match Of The Day’s Lothian Buddha and “Action Man: School Run Extreme” Alan Hansen, allow us mere mortals to even look at the table.

A hefty defeat for us and a victory for Spurs and we drop to 5th, a win and further slip-ups for United and Chelsea and we’d go 2nd. A simply astonishing position to find ourselves in.

Well, sort of astonishing. A number of journalists, myself included, wrote last season about how Alan Pardew looked to be slowly turning Newcastle United away from the direct, physical style of Chris Hughton, into a far more fluid, and pleasing to watch, passing side. After all, you don’t sell the best target men in the entire leage, if you’re not planning on keeping it on the floor in future.

If you’re a little sceptical on this one then look no further than Newcastle’s three best results last season, The 5-1 against the Mackems, the 4-4 with Arsenal, and thumping Villa 6-0. Contained within the 15 goals we scored in those games are three penalties, five corners, two crosses, three long balls humped into the box and nodded down, and two wonder strikes – one of which was lashed in directly from a poorly cleared free-kick.

There’s nothing wrong with playing this way, and indeed we may have struggled to stay in the league last season if we’d been too romantic with the ball, but those were Hughton’s tactics and, whilst I was sad to see the back of him, I feel no such loss for his gameplan.

So, it’s been viva la revolution at St James’s Park this season, albeit a tactical one. Long balls, bypassing the midfield and a reliance on set-pieces have been replaced by a pleasant one-touch, direct running and far more fluid brand of football. I’m delighted, not only because it’s getting us some great results and is much better to watch, but because I called it.

His defensive duties have stopped Tiote being isolated behind the ball and, as a result, the Ivorian is picking up less bookings.

Without tooting my own cock too much, way back in May I wrote an article in which I suggested that Newcastle may have to offload Kevin Nolan if they were to progress as a football team. He’d arguably been our best player for large parts of the season and was, if memory serves, still the first or second highest English goalscorer in the top flight. Naturally I got panned for it.

Friends mocked me in the pub, family members told me to “give yer heed a shake” and even one member of the North-East regional press referred to it as “ridiculous”. But my point was simple, Kevin Nolan was an exceptional player in a direct and physical team, but we were moving in another direction now, and trying to include him in a system that had nobody like Andy Carroll to bring him into the game simply would not work.

Here we are then, some six months later and sitting pretty near the top of the table. And why? Well, partly because we did turf him out, but mostly because of the player brought in to replace him.

Ladies and gentleman, Yohan Cabaye – a man who’s guaranteed a place in the midst of both your football team and your wife’s thighs. With the passing abilities and tempo dictation of Luka Modric, the dead-ball mastery of Robin Van Persie, the vision and imagination of David Silva and the determination and work-rate of Dirk Kuyt, he’s pulled the strings for us in almost every game this season and is fast on his way to becoming something of a cult figure on Tyneside. He’s our very own Geordie Xavi – and he’s considerably easier on the eye than Peter Beardsley.

Whilst the emergence of Tim Krul, the stability of Fabricio Coloccini, the dependability of Cheik Tiote and the timely goalmouth contributions of messers Ba, Best and Ameobi have all played a part, it’s been our French midfield general who’s provided the critical piece in Alan Pardew’s tactical puzzle. Where Kevin Nolan was almost totally dependent on the efforts of Andy Carroll to bring himself into a game, “Dreamboat” is one of those players who quickly becomes the warm centre of a footballing universe that everything else orbits around. Always wanting the ball, and always knowing what he’s going to do with it.

He’s also got the tenacity and self-discipline to help protect his back four, being better able to get about the field and help in his defensive duties have stopped Tiote being isolated behind the ball and, as a result, the Ivorian is picking up less bookings. He’s created something like half of Newcastle’s goal scoring opportunities this season, as well providing three assists and a winning goal. I think I’m in love.

Two weeks ago, and after having only played seven games for the club, news filtered through of a potentially nasty ankle injury he was reported to have sustained on international duty with France. Hearts were in black and white mouths as we waited for news of its severity and tried to remember if Danny Guthrie existed or not. Mercifully it was just a knock, but after a summer of hearing my fellow fans repeat the necessity to blow a hunk of cash on a centre-forward, the cold sweats that greeted the thought of being Cabaye-less for a prolonged period were testament to the instant impact he’s had here.

For almost the exact price that West Ham United boss and jovial imploding walrus, Sam Allardyce, was willing to pay us for our cult Scouse landlord, we’ve replaced him with one of the classiest central midfielders in Europe. So in that sense, a begrudging acknowledgement must be made to the club’s scouting network, transfer policy and new-found refusal to waste money on big-name marquee signings.

Dare I say it? But Mike Ashley might be onto something here…

Other recent stories you might like:

Gazza: My Newcastle United Hero

The Greatest Goal I Ever Saw: Newcastle United’s Philippe Albert v Manchester Utd

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Lee 9:16 am, 27-Oct-2011

as impressive as Newcastle's start has been we all know it genuinely is just a purple patch and that steam will run out shortly enough. at best it'll last til around christmas. and as for Cabaye? that kind of player doesn't go unnoticed nor unwanted. one of United, Chelsea or Arsenal will be coming in with a substantial bid for him, and I wouldn't even rule out it coming in as early as this January. and its not like you haven't let a player go for the right money after only 6 months in the Premier League. personally I'd love him at Liverpool but Adam has the playmaker spot locked up and it'd be criminal to waste Cabaye to the bench. although I'd sure as shit start Cabaye ahead of Adam.

John 12:24 pm, 27-Oct-2011

Why would we sell to a club below us in the league? why would Cabaye want to go to you just to be another Andy Carroll? I love it how when the so called smaller teams perform more consistently than the so called bigger ones, all we hear is 'its a purple patch' 'it willl run out' We are used to sidelined by fans of the 'big clubs' and not getting credit where due Sounds like sour grapes to me. I honestly believe that Newcastle will finish within 10 pts of Liverpool this year. Considering you have spent a kings ransom and we break even in the transfer market, I know which club I am proud to support

John 12:30 pm, 27-Oct-2011

For the record, 'the right money' - was the most obscene transfer we have seen in a long time. If Carroll is worth £35m to Liverpool, I eagerly await the £70m you are sure to bid for Cabaye :)

Dan H 1:10 pm, 27-Oct-2011

"I eagerly await the £70m you are sure to bid for Cabaye" haha, spot on John! The arrogance of Liverpool fans never ceases to amaze! I'd be far more worried about an eye watering offer from someone like PSG or Real Madrid.

paul 3:12 pm, 27-Oct-2011

Lee is a dirty scouse twat

Rodzilla 5:01 pm, 28-Oct-2011

haha, there's always one @Lee, well usually quite a few actually. ..."at best it'll last til around christmas" - I bloody hope it does, we've got Stoke away, Everton, Citeh, Man Utd and Chelsea to get out of the way before the bearded fella's birthday bash. And Dalglish is a joke, why doesn't he just go to the supermarket by himself, instead of just buying other peoples' shopping for 5+ times its worth from the car park. ...good article Adam anyway. :)

Len Smith 5:02 pm, 28-Oct-2011

Superman wears Yohan Cabaye pyjamas when he goes to bed. Nuff said.

Lee 12:20 am, 29-Oct-2011

wow. I live in Dublin so it's hard to say since I've never experienced it. But christ Newcastle fans are actually even more delusional than I thought. you all genuinely believe Newcastle are some sort of Champions League material club don't you? I love how my realism has been mistaken for arrogance. I don't know where any sort of arrogance has been shown by me? because I spoke against your beloved club? lads. big bloody wakeup call. an unbeaten start to the season and suddenly Newcastle are a semi-big club again? come the fuck on. that's like me saying because we overpaid for a couple of decent footballers over the summer Liverpool are ready to win the league? I've not indulged in the delusional the way other Liverpool fans have, but it appears delusion isn't exclusive to us at all. Obviously geordie land has had a healthy dose. I think the Blackburn game proved that youse may well have shoved your heads a little too far up your own arses so early in this season. Pride comes before the fall boys.

Lee 12:23 am, 29-Oct-2011

Liverpool are a work in progress and are a country mile away from challenging United, Chelsea and City. my feet are firmly on the ground. and it drives me mad when twats think they have some moral high ground because they support a smaller team. smaller teams are like the indie bands of football. you're not fucking better because you're a fan of one.

Rodzilla 3:24 pm, 29-Oct-2011

Lee, point out where a Newcastle fan has claimed we're going to get into the Champions League, because I can't find it anywhere. YOU are the delusional one, my dear friend. It's arseholes like you that continually feel the need to brand Geordies delusional. How is it delusional to wish success on your club? How many Newcastle United fans do you know who expect to finish in the top 4?! Just admit it Lee, you're a delusional cock.

Lee Mahady 9:10 pm, 31-Oct-2011

delusional about what exactly? geordie twat

billy don 7:52 pm, 15-Nov-2011

i think i speak for all proper fans when i say you live in dublin lee well support dublin you pretend scouse twat give credit where credit is due you payed over the haha not our fault but you robbed us with enrique but all being said we will will will finish above yous without spending millions unlucky

Daniel 8:14 pm, 17-Nov-2011

How can you insult us "geordie twats" by saying we are "delusional" and that we think we have a "moral high ground" when the only reason for us to have a "moral high ground" is that you are just a glorly hunter from dublin.

Lee 2:06 am, 19-Nov-2011

support dublin billy? dublin don't have an association football team... and you won't finish above us. and onto Daniel. what has where I'm from got to do with being a glory hunter? if not it only makes me more committed. I save a lot of my own money to travel across to England regularly every year simply to watch my team play. glory hunter's in dublin support United. because they chose the winning team at the time they began to watch football. I'm 20 years old. I began supporting Liverpool long after the glory days ended. I'm not a glory hunter. I simply love my favourite club for what it is and am realistic about it's position and standing, which always was and still is, a greater club than Newcastle, despite the way current form may tell. I have respect for Newcastle, and more than a little jealousy over their strong start and having a handy bunch of players on a shoestring budget whilst our overpriced players struggle to adjust. I can admit that. but unlike youse I'm looking at the league from a long term point of view. I defy the stereotype of a Liverpool fan from the view of the other fan with realistic and rational thought and ability to admit my team's shortcomings. its a shame you lot are still unable to do so. you'll learn some day

Lord C 8:53 pm, 8-Dec-2011

There are at least 5 teams in Dublin and its suburbs (Bohs, Shamrock Rovers, Shelbourne, Pats and UCD), almost certainly one close to where you live. The 'glory years' never really ended for Liverpool, in some way you support them because they were once successful (either your family supported them when they were successful, or you watched them in a televised game they were in because they are a 'big' team, or you just heard about them being a big team when you were growing up, etc)

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