Newcastle's French Legionnaires Sound Premier League Survival Rallying Cry

Ian RodgersWorld Football Staff WriterJanuary 30, 2013

Moussa Sissoko set up Papiss Cisse's opener for Newcastle at Villa Park.
Moussa Sissoko set up Papiss Cisse's opener for Newcastle at Villa Park.Michael Regan/Getty Images

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew reaped an immediate benefit from his French shopping spree as victory at Aston Villa eased relegation concerns on Tyneside.

Pardew has collected five French players as part of his recruitment drive this month in preparation for a crucial second half of the Premier League season.

Defender Mathieu Debuchy made his third start for the club at Villa Park since joining from Lille, while Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran began their first matches for Newcastle and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa replaced Sissoko before the end.

Only defender Massadio Haidara is waiting to make his bow for the Geordies following his transfer from Nancy.

The prospect of signing five new players in one month to be pitched into relegation battle—and Newcastle are in a survival fight, despite the 2-1 win at Villa—is a major gamble on behalf of Pardew and club owner Mike Ashley.

It remains a calculated one, though, after a summer in which the club did not bring in any new faces. Unfortunately, injuries have played a significant part in preventing Pardew and the team from building on last season's unexpected fifth-placed finish.

The losses of Ryan and Steven Taylor at the back have weakened Newcastle, while the absence of Yohan Cabaye—who scored the winner at Villa—left the team bereft of creativity.

Demba Ba choosing to join Chelsea this month was also a cue for much anguish, but the capture of the five Frenchmen is a strong sign of ambition, which should be applauded by the Newcastle supporters.

The contrast with the lack of movement at Aston Villa, where manager Paul Lambert looks set to carry on with his confidence-drained young squad, is quite startling. The Villa boss looks like the naughty child denied pocket money as his friends raid a sweet shop.

Ashley enjoys, at best, a mixed relationship with the Newcastle fans. However, there is no doubting that he is putting his money where his mouth is in backing Pardew.

The early indications from the Midlands on Tuesday are that the move could pay off. It is still too early to ascertain exactly how the five newcomers will fare, but hope springs eternal after victory at Villa.

Debuchy, 27, managed to get through the game at Villa without a caution following two yellow cards in his previous two matches against Norwich City and Reading.

The full-back has performed well so far for Newcastle but was at fault for Christian Benteke's penalty. Keeping his discipline will be a key factor in his integration into the team.

Gouffran enjoyed a good chance in the opening period at Villa Park, but is still settling into his new team. The signs remain positive, though.

Yanga-Mbiwa's substitute appearance was a solid start and his interception to deny Villa's Ciaran Clark proved vital to Newcastle's win.

However, it was Sissoko who stole the show and created his first assist for Newcastle within 20 minutes when he slid the ball to Papiss Cisse for Newcastle's opener against Lambert's side.

The former Toulouse midfielder was admittedly granted plenty of time and space by Villa, but he used it well until tiring in the second half.

With more minutes under his belt, the 23-year-old can carve out a great career for himself at Newcastle. Pardew declared his admiration for the player after the game as the Newcastle Evening Chronicle reported.

Newcastle have moved four points clear of the drop zone after the win at Villa, and there are solid signals that the team will not be troubled by the end of the season.

Vive la Revolution, Pet.