After the poor home defeat against Reading, it was clear something drastic needed to be done to save Newcastle United's season. The club were sliding towards the relegation zone, and with top scorer Demba Ba having signed for Chelsea, things were looking pretty bleak for fans of the northeast side.
However, owner Mike Ashley showed faith in manager Alan Pardew and sanctioned one of the most unlikeliest transfer sprees in the history of the January transfer window. The club signed five players from France in the space of a couple weeks, and the French Revolution at Newcastle United was well and truly under way.
Since the new signings, Newcastle have won their last two games in impressive fashion, defeating Aston Villa away from home and coming from behind against Chelsea in front of a hysterical home crowd. Moussa Sissoko has been particularly impressive, with an assist for Papiss Cisse on his debut and two calm strikes against Chelsea to further endear himself to the Geordie faithful.
However, it was a French player who was already at the club, Yohan Cabaye, who has been key to the team's turnaround.
Making his comeback after long-term injury against Reading, Cabaye ran the show in midfield and scored a wonderful free kick before being replaced by Pardew when he tired late on. On that day, it was noticeable how Newcastle's resolve crumbled after Cabaye was replaced.
Against Villa, with some more training sessions under his belt, Cabaye gave one of the best all-around performances I have seen in a Newcastle shirt. His class was evident. He passed the ball beautifully and scored a spectacular goal that was heading for the top corner as soon as it left his boot.
What was really noticeable, though, was his work-rate. He covered every blade of grass and fully deserved the standing ovation he was given from the travelling support at the end of the game.
Will Newcastle finish in the top 10 this season?
Although his compatriot Sissoko stole the headlines against Chelsea, Cabaye was the catalyst for the victory.
He was always probing when in possession of the ball. If he couldn't start an attack, he ensured that Newcastle retained the ball at all times.
His pressing of the opposition was also impressive. Cabaye never gave the Chelsea midfield a moment's piece. The only occasion he did back off, Frank Lampard punished Newcastle with a sizzling drive for the equaliser.
Cabaye is currently one of the best players in the Premier League. If he hadn't missed such a large chunk of the season through injury, Alan Pardew's side would be sitting comfortably in the top 10 and pushing for European competition once again.
If they can hold on to Cabaye next season, there is little limit to what Newcastle can achieve.