As vultures circle and the departure of Yohan Cabaye becomes ever more likely, I felt compelled to write something, anything, about the man who is dominating the headlines at NUFC. I hoped I could take a look at Yohans contribution to Newcastle United and discuss what he would bring to his potential suitors both at home and abroad. As it turns out I’ll probably spend the duration of this post gushing about how handsome he is and how he loves The Corner (All together now, THE CORNER).
While we have in the past been guilty of a slightly one sided view of Yohan’s ability here at Taylor and Besty towers, I’ve decided to be even handed and completely objective in how I approached this bit of scribble and hope I can put the faux homosexuality and fan boy leanings to one side. However, Yohan sliding on his knees towards the corner while Manchester United crumble behind him, might just be one of my most treasured memories as a Newcastle fan.
Yohan Cabaye joined Newcastle in 2011 from LOSC for somewhere close to £4.5 million. When I saw the photograph of him holding the shirt with his name but no number, suited and booted, grinning like a Cheshire cat, I thought to myself, “Who’s this flashy bastard.” It wasn’t love at first sight. After watching him make his debut for United in THAT friendly at Darlington, I was converted. His poise on the ball, the way he passed, his vision, he was seeing things that literally no other person on that field could have seen. Not even 200+ beered up fuck knuckles.
His first season was undoubtedly a success. He was instrumental in United’s 5th place finish and alongside Chieck Tiote, he built a formidable partnership that attracted the attention of some of Europe’s elite. His free kick against Man Utd ranks up there with the most iconic moments St James’ Park has ever witnessed. His creativity fed both Demba Ba in the first half and Papiss Cisse in the second half of the season and Cabaye fished 11/12 with 38 appearences, 5 goals and 9 assists.
Cabaye was very good in his first season in the Premier League, but he was by no means perfect. His penchant for the Hollywood pass often left his teammates and fans frustrated. As United’s designated corner taker he only assisted once in this way all season. His lack of physical presence meant that he got pushed around a lot by the bigger boys and his frustration at this showed on a number of occasions. He’s a fiery little fucker and has a rash streak in him, which rears its head a lot more often than it should. Numerous times he could and should have been shown red cards for lunging tackles. Just ask Jay Spearing, Phil Bardsley and that Everton ballboy. When he was clattered v QPR by Shaun Derry, he was more furious than I’ve ever seen anyone in a black and white shirt for years. He’d been dumped out of the game by a hatchet man and his incredulity at the situation showed. He threw his gloves at the linesman, pissing and moaning all the way down tunnel. He would have definitely have gone looking for Derry, had he stayed on.
After starring for France at Euro 2012, Cabaye returned to Newcastle looking tired, jaded and by his own admission, thoroughly depressed. Niggling injuries and returning late meant to training his pre season was stop start and boy did it show when the season got underway. Cabaye looked thoroughly uninterested on the pitch and Pardew, who insisted on implementing a sloppy 4-2-3-1 formation, dropped him deeper and deeper during games. Couple this with United’s inability to tie up a deal for his best mate during the summer and we had one very unhappy Yohan on our hands. After three months of the season, we were informed that Cabaye would need surgery on a recurring groin problem and would miss the next two months whilst recuperating. On his return, something had changed, the swagger was back, he looked arsed again and he started scoring goals and making chances. I’ve seen a number of people make statements similar to “Doesn’t matter if we sell him, he was shit last season anyway”. While on the face of it, Yohan didn’t have as good a season as 12/13, certain stats and statements suggest otherwise.
“Cabaye didn’t get enough assists” – While this is true in itself, Cabaye did create more chances and at a better rate in his 26 league starts in 12/13. Assists have 2 parts, the pass and the finish. The passes were being made, but the finishes not applied. Newcastle were hopelessly wasteful in front of goal. Cabaye’s job is to create, and this is exactly what he did more effectively than anyone else in United’s squad. His ability when stood over a dead ball around the box is as good as anyone in the league and he states that he regularly spends hours practicing free kicks and penalties. 4 of his 6 goals in 12/13 came from a dead ball.
Wherever Yohan Cabaye ends up playing football, a team with clinical strikers and other creative players around him will no doubt thrive on his ability. While he is still a long way short of the level of his idol, Xavi Hernandez at Barca, he still has years in the tank to develop his craft and could become one of Europe’s best midfielders, an accolade I think he will struggle to achieve at the current incarnation of Newcastle United.
Lots of love and that - Taylor x