Newcastle United’s disintegrating season is turning around rapidly, and that new direction has been sparked by the arrival of men from France.
In total there are currently nine French players on the United squad; Gabriel Obertan, Mathieu Debuchy, Hatem Ben Arfa, Yoan Gouffran, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Romain Amalfitano, Yohan Cabaye, Massadio Haïdara and Sylvain Marveaux not to mention two others from Francophone Africa.
Sissoko, Debuchy, Haïdara, Gouffran and Yanga-Mbiwa more than doubled the previous total of four when they arrived in a the recently closed transfer window.
The results have been amazing.
Two huge wins have come, including the club’s first away win of the season at the twelfth attempt where Cabaye scored the winning goal at Aston Villa.
For their next trick, the Gallic inspired Magpies downed the mighty Chelsea in an absolutely pulsating game at St James Park.
Moussa Sissoko scored the second and third Newcastle goals but there were influential performances also by Cabaye and Gouffran.
Their arrival was in the nick of time.
The Magpies were six games without a win, a run that included a humiliating FA Cup elimination by Brighton and Hove Albion and the concession of seven goals in a league match at Arsenal.
Even before that streak began, they were struggling with just two wins in the last 18 games in all competitions, both home wins against relegation haunted sides; QPR and Wigan respectively.
The six points inside a week has lifted them out of the relegation zone. With Southampton Swansea, Stoke and Wigan making up four of their next five EPL opponents, there is every chance that Newcastle may be half way to safety long before the finger biting months of April and May.
Culturally, the Newcastle public has taken it in good stead. The fans who once waved a banner with “Cockneys Out” emblazoned in protest against Londoner owners, seem to have dropped their parochialism.
The Newcastle club shop has sold out of specially branded berets, the stereotypical hat of choice of French people in England.
French tricoloured flags were in evidence at the Chelsea game.
Only one thing remains to be done, that is to find a French translation for the traditional Geordie battle cry ‘Howay the Lads“.