Yohan Cabaye has hinted it was director of football Joe Kinnear who stopped him leaving Newcastle United this summer.
The midfielder tried to engineer a move to Arsenal in August when he declared himself not in the right state of mind to play against Manchester City, West Ham United and Fulham.
But Newcastle stood firm, and if Cabaye’s comments are anything to go by, their supporters have, for once, got something to thank Kinnear for.
The midfielder was asked to explain his early-season inactivity by the French Press ahead of this weekend’s friendly against Australia, but refused to do so.
“I won’t explain about that today, it is not for me to answer, I don’t want to talk about it,” he replied. “This is a Press conference for the national team.
“It is already over, the only person who could talk about (what happened in the summer) is Joe Kinnear, it will never leave my mouth.”
Kinnear joined Newcastle at the start of the close season, with responsibility for their transfer dealings. He was unable to bring in the signings manager Alan Pardew wanted – only recruiting striker Loic Remy on a season-long loan from Queens Park Rangers – but at least achieved one of their objectives by holding on to Cabaye.
Newcastle maintained throughout the transfer window they were not prepared to sell their best players for anything less than the market rate and Arsenal, not to mention Paris Saint-Germain, seemed unwilling to do that. The Gunners instead saved up their money to bring in £42.5m Mesut
Ozil. Cabaye’s performance as a second-half substitute at Everton, and from the start at Cardiff City last week suggest the 27-year-old has put the episode behind him. Cabaye scored against the Toffees, and hit the woodwork in South Wales.
He is not the only Newcastle midfielder to have had a difficult start to the season, but Cheick Tiote thinks he too has rediscovered his best form.
The Ivorian unwisely played with an injury in the opening game of the season, at Manchester City, which he subsequently aggravated. In his absence Vurnon Anita established himself in the first team.
Tiote controversially replaced the Dutchman on Saturday, but a 2-1 win over Cardiff justified his selection.
“I think that’s me back to my best and it was important for me to play well in this game because it has been a difficult start,” commented Tiote.
“I’m happy with my performance and hopefully I can continue to play like that for the rest of this season.”
Tiote admitted the victory at Cardiff – secured by two Remy goals – had been important for the team as well as for him. It’s a good result for us and a big win because we lost two of our last (Premier League) games,” said the 27-year-old, now preparing for the World Cup qualifier against Papiss Cisse’s Senegal on Saturday. “I think we did a good job.
“There was pressure on us to get a result especially when it’s not easy to come here.”
After the game Pardew made a point of praising Hatem Ben Arfa for his professionalism. Newcastle’s manager has always tried to tread carefully when dealing with the temperamental Frenchman. But he was delighted with Ben Arfa’s response after being left on the bench in South Wales.
“The players who got left out accepted it and contributed to the win,” he said.
“It was nice to see Hatem come on. He’s growing up. I was pleased with his reaction this week.”
“Jonas (Gutierrez) did a great little job for us. So did Hatem, which was even more important.
“I asked him to do a defensive job. I don’t think I’ve ever asked him to do that before. He saw it through, so it was good news.”