Newcastle United took on the Premier League mantle of leading the relationship with our closest neighbours across the North Sea.

As Arsenal ironically turned more towards England, plus a flavouring of German and Spanish, it was Mike Ashley who filled that void with wholesale purchasing of French players at St James Park.

Newcastle already had the likes of Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa and Sylvain Marveaux on the books, though it was the bizarre and desperate purchase of five French players in January 2013 that really raised eyebrows on both sides of the Channel.

With the quintet including three full internationals (Sissoko, Yanga-Mbiwa and Sissoko) to add to another two, Cabaye and Ben Arfa, that were already here. This made Newcastle a big story, especially in France, with the football public there seeing a failing Premier League club asset stripping Ligue 1.

A section of the French media then appeared to be camped on Tyneside, reporting back home about this curious phenomenon, whilst Newcastle United were more than happy to play along and even turned one matchday into a special ‘French day’.

A bit like the Christmas decorations looking all too shabby after the party season has finished, so do the remnants of the failed French experiment at St James Park.

Remy Cabella is out on loan but Moussa Sissoko, Yoan Gouffran, Sylvain Marveaux, Massadio Haidara, Gabriel Obertan, Florian Thauvin and Emmanuel Riviere still fill Newcastle United’s squad. With only Moussa Sissoko deserving a place in the first eleven and that under sufferance for many fans.

Newcastle United don’t need all French players, they don’t need all signings to be under 27, they don’t need to be constrained by any daft and too rigid policy formulated by Mike Ashley or one of his minions at Sports Direct, when it comes to player recruitment at Newcastle United.

All that is needed to give the club the best means of moving forward is to back the manager when it comes to whichever players he thinks he needs to improve his team/squad.

It is a radical and revolutionary idea but who knows, if it catches on at Newcastle United then other less enlightened clubs may follow…

So Saturday, we turn to the important business of points against Leicester to try and bring Premier League safety a little closer.

However, like the rest of English football, we also show our support today for the people of France and all those of whatever nationality who have been affected by the terrorist acts of recent days.

Nowhere will this be more keenly felt than at St James Park with so many French players from across the Channel in the Newcastle squad.

We see them as people first and football players second, we join them in showing solidarity in this special moment where everybody must pull together and show that the game that we all love will continue, no matter what challenges are put in its way.