Don't sell Cabaye! (Or should they?)

Posted by Marc Duffy

Stu Forster/Getty ImagesYohan Cabaye is pushing to leave Newcastle.

Newcastle United supporters have a couple of songs for their French midfielder Yohan Cabaye. One of them goes:

Don't sell Cabaye, Yohan Cabaye, I just don't think you understand!
That if you sell Cabaye, Yohan Cabaye, you're gonna have a riot on your hands!

But sell him they might and despite the song, many supporters would be quite happy to see it happen. There certainly won't be a riot.

'Yohan Cabaye considers move away from Newcastle United' -- The Guardian
'Newcastle steeled for fight to keep Yohan Cabaye from Manchester United' -- The Independent
'Yohan Cabaye hints at Newcastle exit' - The Telegraph
'Yohan Cabaye admits he would relish the chance to play for Manchester United' - The Sun

And so on.

-Cabaye interested in Manchester United

The thread of each of these stories comes from an interview Cabaye gave to French TV channel CanalPlus while away on international duty a few days ago. Cabaye said:

"For the moment I am at Newcastle, you never know what happens in football, I am here at the moment, the season is not finished as I have still two matches [for France].

"After that I’m going on holiday to clear my head of the difficult season we have just had, and I let my agents work for me. I have had no direct contact with anyone, maybe my agents are currently in the know. As for me, I am here, listening. I like England as well. I will need to look at the situation, but you never know.

"Yes of course, I like this club (Manchester United) for a long time. I like what they do, the boss (Sir Alex Ferguson) has left, but they have appointed a very good successor (David Moyes), and he did some very good things with Everton.”

Few could blame a footballer for wanting to leave a club whose ambitions don't stretch beyond the balance sheet -- especially if the player in question is not a 'local' and the potential destination club will see him playing in the Champions League and competing for silverware each and every season. But why are so many Newcastle supporters now so indifferent about whether their darling of 2012 stays or goes?

After arriving at Newcastle for less than £5m in the summer of 2011, Cabaye quickly became a hero of the Gallowgate. His passing range, elegant style and obvious ability had many wowed and wondering how they'd never heard of him before.

They also took to his character -- his second(?) game was a derby at the Stadium of Light (1-0 to Newcastle, Ryan Taylor over the wall) and Cabaye fought for every ball and looked for revenge when the likes of Phil Bardsley and Lee Cattermole assaulted his team mates. Too often Newcastle supporters had seen players come in from different leagues and not appear to 'fancy' these games like Hugo Viana in that very same stadium years earlier. Cabaye made a mark.

Cabaye was an integral part of the Newcastle side which was challenging for Champions League football right up until the final day of the 2011-12 season.

Last season, Newcastle struggled and it was a different Cabaye that the supporters watched at times especially toward the end of the season. Cabaye looked frustrated all too often and who could blame him? Not only were the team underperforming week in, week out, but Alan Pardew was misusing Cabaye and not utilising his abilities -- more than once he played a deeper role than Cheick Tiote!

Pardew awarded Cabaye the captaincy in the absence of Fabricio Coloccini, and to me that was a mistake. Instead of leading and driving the team forward, Cabaye disappeared too often. I lost count of the number of times he began to hobble shortly after Newcastle fell behind.

This is what a lot of people remember -- only the most recent happenings. Too few give allowance for form. Cabaye did not suddenly become a bad player, he just played through a bad spell as did each and every one of his teammates. The six goals he scored from 25 starts was a vital return in a season lacking in goals. In his two years at the club, Cabaye has contributed 10 goals and six assists from 59 games -- Newcastle have a striker whose ratio is not too far from that!

To make any sort of progress on the pitch Newcastle need to keep Cabaye. However if a bid of £25 million comes in from one of Europe's big guns. then he will be gone and only then will many Newcastle fans realise what they have lost. It is a big 'if', though.

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy

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