After being a key element for the Magpies last season, Frenchman Antoine Sibierski was happy to extend his contract in Newcastle. Until he was not offered what had been first agreed.
Last spring, when we talked to you, you said you were close to extending your contract with Newcastle and then, a few weeks after, you move to Wigan. What happened?
Indeed, I had an agreement with Glenn Roeder to extend my contract for two more years. But a few games before the end of the season, Roeder was sacked and then the deal changed. His departure didn't erase all I did for the club and Newcastle were still agreeing to keep me. But instead of two years, I was offered only one and the salary was 60% of the original offer with the rest based on bonuses depending on appearances. After the season I had, I considered that as a lack of consideration from the club's executives. I was still a Newcastle player when Allardyce arrived. I asked for a personal meeting with him. I asked him if I should keep on discussing with the chairman (Freddy Shepherd) or if I should also speak with him from now on. He said he wanted me to stay but that I should keep on speaking with the chairman. I said to him that if we were keeping the same deal, I would leave. But he didn't change his mind and I asked my agent to look for another club. Leaving Newcastle was anything but my wish, I didn't want that. I was happy there, having had a very strong relationship with the fans. We shared a great time together. I'll always be a fan of Newcastle and it was hard to digest that I had to leave. Emre told me once that for him I was one of the best two players in the team and Martins said as joke before I left 'what am I going to do without you ?'. I deserved better than that last offer I was given by the chairman.
After Newcastle, Wigan was a surprising destination. Why this choice ?
When I said I was leaving Newcastle, five teams showed interest in me. It proved that I had done a great job with the Magpies. I chose Wigan because it is 30 minutes from my house in Manchester, where my family was still living last season. I have a two-year contract, that is also what I wanted.
Compared to Manchester City and Newcastle, Wigan isn't a high budget team, with different ambitions. Does this make you see the Premier League differently?
You have less pressure when you go to Chelsea or Liverpool with a Wigan jersey on than Newcastle's, where you are expected to get a result. If Wigan loses, it is normal. This context allows you to express yourself, to play without fear and negative pressure. This is the reason why we drew 1-1 at Liverpool, although the Reds deserved to win. We went to Anfield with enthusiasm and the will to enjoy the game and play our best. The spirit with Wigan so far reminds me of my first professional seasons with Lille, in France, where we also knew that only the collective could save us. Individually, we didn't have the weapons to compete with every team, but all together, as one, everything was possible.
How would you explain the hard stage the team went through after a fantastic start?
At the start, indeed, we were playing great football, we were having fun and the results were there. After, what happened, I can't really explain. But I can say that we haven't been helped by injuries. We lost three starters, including Emile Heskey, a key element. Wigan doesn't have the squad to compensate losing them at the same time. But we have been doing better for the last few matches, and honestly we don't play as a low ranked team. We don't perceive that inside the changing room and I don't think the fans and the public do either.
Talking about yourself, until Saturday you hadn't scored since the third match of the season. Is that hard to live with ?
A bit yes. I was relying on the Cup to score again but I got injured before half-time. I've had to deal with many physical problems for the past two months. It started with my shoulder, then I had a got a head injury and then had a muscle problem that ruled me out for three weeks. With all those problems it is hard to maintain the rhythm to be performing.
You aren't afraid to lose your spot? New coach Steve Bruce has to quickly find a chemistry to lift the team. I got injured during Bruce's second practice session, so he had to do without me for nearly a month. He has found a formula but I know my skills and so does the coach. Steve Bruce hasn't come yet to me to say he wasn't relying on me anymore. Me, I come to train every day to give my best and to have fun. After that, if the coach picks me, that's great. If he doesn't I'd deal with it. In my position, I have to be decisive, scoring and delivering assists. Physically, I might be less able than three, four years ago but technically, I still can make a difference.
Does this mean that this will be your last contract ? I'll be 35 years old in August 2009 so, yes it might. I would say it should be. I won't cheat myself, the fans and the club. That is not me and I'm not going to act differently just to chase some more money.