ALAN Pardew thinks he has found a central midfield partnership capable of controlling games for Newcastle United.
Yohan Cabaye was the Magpies’ outstanding performer in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Aston Villa, ably assisted by Cheick Tioté, starting to pick up the pace after a slow start to the season.
Cabaye is an elegant playmaker, his Ivorian colleague a belligerent destroyer. Together they made an excellent combination.
“There has been a couple of games where he (Cabaye) has struggled,” Pardew admitted. “He needs to get a grip of the Premier League somehow.
“But if we can get a grip of him then he is an outstanding player. That’s why he is in the French national team. He has a gift of a pass and it is his vision which is his real quality. He showed that (at Villa Park). We controlled the game with those two (Cabaye and Tioté), and Demba Ba. That is something we didn’t do last year.
“It probably has helped that there are a few French (and, like Tioté, French-speaking) players. It wasn’t planned, though. We just targeted players to put round pegs in round holes. Hopefully we can pick up some French and they pick up English along the way.”
As Pardew acknowledged, the Newcastle team which has started the new campaign looks very different to the one he inherited less than a year ago. “It is not about making my mark,” he insisted. “It is about going forward that we have players that fit in to our salary system. We work very hard to get the players we have got and they are gelling nicely at the moment.” Pardew, who will hand another French playmaker, Hatem Ben Arfa, his first start for nearly a year in tomorrow’s League Cup tie at Nottingham Forest, also had positive news on the last of his summer signings, Italian full-back Davide Santon. “He has had a fluid taken from his knee,” Pardew revealed. “Maybe he will be available for next weekend.
“If that doesn’t cure the problem, he could need an operation where they will tidy it up. But it is not cartilage.”