YOHAN Cabaye says that simply staying in the Premier League is not a source of pride for Newcastle United – as he urged the club to learn the lessons of this season.
United racked up three points to confirm their survival at QPR and the overriding emotion from the camp appeared to be relief. Alan Pardew spoke of the importance of being in the top flight next season for the start of a new TV deal that has the potential to transform English football.
But in comments that cut to the chase Cabaye – who has been in the firing line in recent weeks – says that Newcastle are not proud of the way the season has developed.
He also said that the Europa League should not be used as an excuse for the abject way the season has gone.
“We are satisfied we are safe, but we are not proud of what has happened,” he said.
“It was just really important that we got everything finished. We didn’t want to be going into the final game with everything still to play for, especially after the way the last two home games have gone. They were terrible for us, and we played badly. We didn’t want to have everything hanging on the last game. If that had happened, it would have been very nervous for everybody. Now the job is done, although there is not really any celebrations going on.
“We want to finish well in front of our fans.
“Then we will have our holidays and have a big rest and try to get refreshed.
“We have to prepare well for next season because we cannot have another season like this one. We know we are capable of much better. We have a good team.”
Cabaye’s contribution in recent weeks has been under the microscope but some of the criticism that was directed at the France midfielder seemed harsh. Despite fitness issues and self-confessed mental battles, he has carried the weight of the city on his shoulders at times and remains as committed as ever to the cause.
His comments also illustrate a genuine understanding of the problems and the need for improvement next year.
He said: “I am sure everyone feels the same, but we have to learn from this season to make sure next season is better.
“Maybe without the Europa League we are going to be more fit, although that is not an excuse. We were in trouble all season, but we have to enjoy the fact we are now safe.” Reflecting on the lessons to be learned, he said: “It would be a mistake if we forgot everything that has happened in this season.
“We have to learn from what has happened and make sure we do not allow it to repeat in the future. It has been very hard, but it has given us experience and we have to use that. It is very difficult to fight against relegation and no one wants to be in that position again.”
One reason for optimism is that the French players fast-tracked into the side in January will have longer to build up fitness.
He said: “You never know in football, but the new French players will have more time to prepare in the pre-season and that is important.
“That will help all of us because next season, they will have had more experience in the Premier League. It’s very difficult to adapt quickly, especially if you’re moving in January.
“It was a new league for those players, and a new type of football. We will have more time to prepare now.
“Hopefully, we will have a good pre-season, a tough pre-season that will make sure we are fit for next year.
“I think we have good quality in the team, and we can certainly be much higher in the league table.”