Yohan Cabaye turned in a captain's performance and a wonderful goal as his Newcastle side held Liverpool to a 2-2 draw at St. James' Park, but every dominant display only takes him further from Tyneside.
Cabaye was both belligerent and petulant in attempting to force through a move to Arsenal in the offseason to the extent that he actually refused to play for Alan Pardew in the first two games of the season.
Cabaye was fined for his indiscretion, but his reappearance in black and white was greeted with something like a 50/50 split of boos and cheers. Goals like the one against Liverpool will go a long way to restoring the faith of the Toon Army, but every impressive showing pushes Cabaye closer to the front of the shop window.
When he spoke to Miles Starforth at The Shields Gazette, Cabaye reaffirmed his commitment to the Newcastle cause, insisting that he had learned from his experiences in transfer limbo:
For the Newcastle fans, you must give everything from the first minute to the 90th minute every game. They are behind you, and they push you to do your best. I understood their mood about the summer.
I don’t blame anyone. I just want to think about the future. I want to work and win a lot of games. I want to play well with Newcastle to get the best results we can.
Actually, he didn't commit himself to Newcastle, did he? What he said was he wanted to think about the future, play well with Newcastle and get the best results he could. That's decidedly temporary-sounding.
Yes, he mentioned his current club at the end, but it didn't appear to be uppermost in his mind. In fact, across the entirety of the Gazette piece, that's the only time he mentions them.
He makes frequent references to the future, or wanting to win lots of Premier League games, but he never dedicates himself to the Toon. He ends with mentioning the World Cup and how he wants to remain in the French squad. Of course, the only way to do that is to play well now.
Put it down to second-language problems if you will, but it wouldn't have taken much to clarify his position. "I want to stay at Newcastle" is all it would have taken. Regardless of how many people believed it, saying it would still mean something.
The problem here is twofold. Footballers aren't exactly renowned for their loyalty, and Mike Ashley isn't exactly renowned for his dedication to the Magpies.
If Cabaye does indeed "play well with Newcastle" that will draw him to the attention of bigger clubs. With a transfer window opening in the New Year, this will increase his price.
Since Ashley took over, Newcastle have been a selling club. Chief scout Graham Carr will find good, young players who can be purchased cheaply from overseas, and when they develop into regular first-team contributors they quickly find themselves sold on.
Home-grown players fare no differently. Andy Carroll was sent away for a huge profit, and young Adam Campbell can expect the same if he produces for his home team. The appointment of Joe Kinnear inevitably brought in no new players, instead, fulfilling its purpose to distract the fans and give them someone else to blame for further inactivity.
Even if Cabaye was adamant that he wanted to end his career at Newcastle, good performances would actually grant him the exact opposite. If he really wants to stay on Tyneside he should instead churn out underwhelming mediocrity each week, threatening but never delivering on his promise as a player.
Of course, that's a ridiculous scenario. However, there isn't anyone or anything that isn't for sale at St. James' Park right now, and that includes the club itself. Cabaye, like many others before him, simply has no choice but to get on with it.