EPL: Yohan Cabaye to Newcastle United, or How I Was Wrong About the Whole Thing

Paul Mullaney@@contepomi90Contributor IIDecember 5, 2011

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22:  Yohan Cabaye of Newcastle United celebrates after scoring the first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Wigan Athletic at St James' Park on October 22, 2011 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

When you write about sports, among the most rewarding moments are when you're able to enjoy a prediction you made turning out exactly as you said it would. There are few things more satisfying than being able to say "I told you so," especially when, at the time, you were derided by others for making the claim in the first place.

By the same token, however, you have to be willing to hold your hands up and accept that you were wrong on those occasions where things don't quite turn out as you'd expected. Sometimes you can worm your way out of it, make a couple of rushed excuses and say that that wasn't exactly what you were going for, but most of the time you have to come clean and just admit it. You were wrong.

This is where Yohan Cabaye comes in.

Last season, Cabaye was arguably the most important player for a Lille side during its best in the club's history, where they won the league for the first time since 1954 and the French Cup for the first time since 1955, and in the process, qualified for the Champions League.

In a midfield trio composed for the majority of the season of himself, Florent Balmont and Rio Mavuba, Cabaye's dynamism, his leadership and his overall ability to dictate the play were an essential part of the way in which Lille played throughout the campaign. It is inconceivable that they could have had anything like the same success without the midfielder in the side.

The season ended, and as it had become increasingly likely into spring and towards summer, Cabaye's departure was announced. But it wasn't to Arsenal, to Bayern Munich or to any of the other club's who reportedly had been following the player since he made his decision to pursue his career elsewhere and to leave the north of France. It was to Newcastle United.

Now at the time, this decision seemed baffling. For many of us, leaving Lille to go anywhere didn't seem like the best option for Cabaye, but it would have been understandable had he left to join a bigger, more successful club—one playing in the Champions League at least—where he would be able to develop his game, and improve as a player, bearing in mind that he is still only 25.

But to Newcastle? Seriously? Granted, despite a disastrous first half of the season, Newcastle had rallied round to finish 12th in the Premier League in 2011 under Alan Pardew, and so there were indications of possible improvement, but on the whole, the move seemed to be about one thing, and one thing only: money.

Premier League clubs, even in the lower reaches of the table, are able to offer salaries that clubs like Lille and many others across the continent can only dream about, and can afford to fill their squads with highly paid duds without really having to worry about the consequences of having a monstrous wage bill.

It wasn't hard to see Cabaye becoming just another in a long line of promising players who've joined Newcastle in the past and have gone on to see their careers totally stagnate there, before moving on elsewhere hoping to get their career on track.

Now, this is still a possibility. But the early indications from Cabaye's career with Newcastle have been very, very promising.

The Frenchman made his debut in the opening match of the season against Arsenal on the 13th August and has played in 14 matches in all competitions this season, scoring one goal.

What's more, he's looked assured in the midfield, forming an impressive partnership with Cheick Tioté and adapting relatively comfortably to the quicker, more direct style of football in the Premier League, something which often takes longer for players moving from Ligue 1 and who are accustomed to a more measured, patient approach.

As for Newcastle themselves...well, quite simply, they've been flying. After 14 games the Magpies find themselves in sixth position in the table with 26 points. Although a recent run of difficult fixtures has seen their form dip slightly, losing 3-0 to Chelsea, 3-0 to Manchester City and picking up a decent point against Manchester United, it looks as though Newcastle and Cabaye can look forward to being competitive in the upper half of the table towards the end of the season, and possibly returning to the continental scene next year.

Of course, many might still argue that the move remains a poor one from Cabaye's point of view, and that despite Newcastle's start to the season, it shows a lack of ambition and a lack of desire to win trophies. While Lille are again in the hunt for the Championship after having had to replace several of their key players and have a chance of qualification for the next round of the Champions League should they beat Trabzonspor this coming midweek, Newcastle can only realistically aim to finish as high as fifth or sixth, and that's if they manage to avoid injuries to their most important players.

At the same time, though, the Premier League is a step up from Le Championnat, and again, given that he's only 25, it could well be a chance for him to prove himself, looking possibly towards a move to a bigger club either in England or elsewhere in Europe.

Like I've said before, there's no point trying to wriggle out of a situation like this: When you're wrong, you're wrong.

We can't be right all the time.