After a summer in which he tried to instigate a transfer to Arsenal, Alan Pardew believes Yohan Cabaye is now well on the road to redemption at Newcastle United.
The France international has been a key player for the Magpies since his arrival from Lille in 2011, but it looked as though he could be on his way when the Gunners tabled an offer of £10million for his signature on the eve of the season. When this bid was rejected, the midfielder refused to knuckle down as he eyed a move to the capital club.
As a result of this Cabaye didn’t play in the opening two matches of the campaign, and he received a lukewarm reception from the fans when he eventually featured in the 1-0 win over Fulham last month. He started his first game of the new term on Saturday afternoon, and produced an impressive performance in the 2-1 triumph at Aston Villa.
There were signs in the Midlands that the visiting fans were beginning to show forgiveness to the 27-year-old, who has now been fully reintegrated into the first team picture. And although there are sure to be some supporters who can’t quite forgive him just yet, Pardew is sure it is only a matter of time providing the midfielder continues to impress.
“Yohan is just as important to us as Wayne Rooney is to Manchester United,” he said. “He’s a player who carries the heartbeat and the rhythm of the team. There are not many who can do that. We all know that if someone comes along and offers you substantially more money to join another organisation it can turn your head – and it did turn Yohan’s head.
“I would not say he’s perfect in what he did, but his attitude has been perfect since the transfer window shut. It was nice the fans gave him a good reception when he came off. It was important for Yohan more than anybody. The fans understand what he did. We do not all have to agree it was the right thing, but we all have to move on in life. There is a time to forgive and forget. I am not sure he has won everybody back, but I think he will.”
Cabaye, speaking after Pardew’s comments, has now apologised to the fans via the official club website. He said: “If the fans were – or still are – mad at me for what happened then I understand and I apologise to them. For Newcastle fans, football is their life and I want to say that I am going to give everything from today until the end of the season. I want to forget what happened during the summer, I want to put it behind me and give everything for Newcastle every day, for the club and for my team-mates.”
Having battled against relegation last season, Newcastle will be looking for a top-ten finish this time round at the very least. Having recovered from their opening day 4-0 battering at Manchester City, they have now collected seven points, and are currently placed in eighth position. Pardew has long said results would improve once he has all his players available, and at the moment, that opinion is beginning to hold strong.
Failure to qualify for European football means the Magpies are not in action during this midweek, but they will expect to collect a third successive Premier League win when Hull City visit St James’ Park on Saturday afternoon. The newly-promoted Tigers have made a steady return to the top-flight, picking up four points from their opening four matches, but have only managed to find the back of the net on two occasions.