ALAN Pardew believes Yohan Cabaye has passed his first English test.
The France schemer has made a bright start to life in the Premier League, coping admirably with two typically high tempo Premier League fixtures with Arsenal and neighbours Sunderland – his all-action approach to the derby game drawing particular praise.
Pardew admits even he was surprised at the “British” attributes Cabaye has shown, such as chasing lost causes and snapping into tackles – not all of which are completely legitimate.
Marry those qualities to an improved understanding of the English game, which will come in time, and the United boss is predicting they will have some player on their hands over the coming months.
Pardew said: “When we were looking at him, I saw a lot of British qualities in him in terms of his will to win and desire to win in his own way.
“Some of the traits he is showing I have not seen before – which is probably because the level is up one.
“The tackle on Saturday was completely out of character – and probably not the best tackle he has ever made.
“He is just committed to become a success. I think he is very focused about what he wants to achieve in the game.
“He came here to do that and we are going to be the beneficiaries of that.
“He has some learning to do of course. I look at Jose Enrique, who has just left us, and look at the stats of when he first arrived and when he just left. He is a completely different player.
“Yohan has started OK – there iss a lot of improvement to come.”
Cabaye may be spared an introduction to life at Glanford Park, though, with Pardew considering a few changes for the Carling Cup game.
Haris Vuckic, Alan Smith, Sylvain Marveaux, Dan Gosling and Steve Harper all come into contention for a game the United boss will treat seriously.
He added: “I guess what happened to Birmingham last year is not going to fill us all with great enthusiasm.
“I think if you feel you are strong enough to attack the Cup and the Premier League with the squad you have of course it is a target.
“You only need to look at our bench on Saturday and the players who did not make the bench – like Alan Smith – to know we are much stronger squad-wise to attack this competition and the FA Cup. Certainly when we got knocked out of the FA Cup by Stevenage, we will be looking to have a stronger squad. We are certainly buoyed by that.”
One player who will miss out is Joey Barton, still available for transfer despite playing in the last two Newcastle games.
That uncertainty was heightened by comments from former Newcastle captain Kevin Nolan suggesting Barton would be welcome at West Ham if he decides to seek longer-term security elsewhere.
Nolan’s public appeal to his close friend angered some United fans but Pardew brushed it off, saying he had “no problem” with his former skipper. “I am sure he would like to have him at West Ham!. It does not bother me.
“Kevin is a captain, he is a friend of Joey’s and I can see why he would want him to play for West Ham.
“I do not see anything more than that. Probably Kev said it as a passing statement, I don’t know. I have no problem with the statement, Kevin or West Ham.
“Joey will do what Joey wants to do. His commitment to the game on Sunday was there for everyone to see.”