Cabaye starting spot should not be guaranteed

Posted by Marc Duffy

Serena Taylor/Newcastle United/Getty ImagesYohan Cabaye has spent most of the Premier League season thus far sitting rather than playing.

Newcastle's failure to sell Yohan Cabaye in the summer transfer window leaves the club, the player and the team in a potentially awkward situation.

No one wants an unhappy, unsettled player in the dressing room -- some reports suggest Cabaye was in that frame of mind for much of last season when he and the team performed so poorly.

- Report: Pardew backs Cabaye for redemption

One thing that is not entirely clear is the truth as to why Cabaye missed the games with Manchester City, West Ham and Morecambe. Was he 'on strike' as several newspapers claimed? Many of the St James' Park crowd seem to think so judging by the booing as he took to the field 65 minutes into last weekend's win over Fulham.

That raises two questions from me: if Cabaye was on strike, why did the club not fine him? But then if he wasn't on strike, why not come out and say so?

It wouldn't be unrealistic to suggest that Cabaye was not on strike but was instead seen by the club as a premium saleable asset that they wanted to cash in on.

As soon as Arsenal tabled their £12m bid hours before Newcastle's season opener in Manchester, Cabaye was removed from the team. Newcastle were hopeful of a sale -- Pardew's summer-long touting of him to potential suitors was proof enough of that, so it is likely that Newcastle took him out of the side so as to avoid any potential injury to a player they were looking to cash in on.

Strike or club decision? Either reason is outrageous and totally unacceptable.

Clearly, Newcastle's £20m valuation of the player was way too high. This was a transfer window in which an all-time record £630m was spent by Premier League clubs and at least two of them -- Manchester United and Arsenal, were in the market for a central midfielder. Manchester United showed no interest in the player (I don't see him as a David Moyes type) and Arsenal refused to budge above their opening offer which was probably a lot closer to his actual value than Newcastle's demands.

All of this is behind Newcastle now and it is vital for the club that the supporters forgive and forget the Cabaye fiasco. No more booing. Cabaye remains an asset both in terms of value and ability.

This is a World Cup year so Newcastle supporters might well see a return of the Cabaye from the 2011-12 season as he aims to win a place in the French squad for Brazil -- his failure to start a game this season has already cost him his place in the squad for this week’s qualifying games.

If Cabaye makes the French squad then he will have enjoyed a successful season for Newcastle. If he goes on to perform well over in Brazil, then both parties, player and club, might fulfil their respective wishes of a transfer and a £20m fee.

He needs to look at his Captain, Fabricio Coloccini, and follow his example of playing wholeheartedly after a difficult off-field situation.

While I think Cabaye will go on to play a big part for Newcastle this season, it would be wrong to throw him straight back into the starting XI at Aston Villa next weekend -- Vurnon Anita and Moussa Sissoko have just about earned the right to start in front of him for now.

Over to you Yohan.

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy

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