Henri Saivet made news this week when he claimed that there was a bias against French players at Newcastle, suggesting that was why he had played for NUFC, including not a single minute for Rafa Benitez.
The French football public of course will have a keen interest on what has happened at Newcastle United.
The fanfare when all the players arrived, the relegation, so many French players who were pushed to the sidelines or moved out, culminating of course with the Moussa Sissoko farce and eventual departure.
Saivet’s full interview in France Football has now been published and he puts a bit more flesh on the bones.
Included in this is his amazement that Gabriel Obertan wasn’t in the first team, somebody who Saivet reckons was ‘way better than those who would start’.
He says this about Yoan Gouffran as well, fair enough he has had a couple of decent Championship matches these past few weeks but he was never good enough for the Premier League either.
Indeed if they were any good, you have to then wonder why no other clubs have shown any interest in buying them.
Gouffran was out of the team for so long with no interest and now seeing the final year of his contract out, whilst Gabriel Obertan (after two goals in five years) was paid off in the final stages of his Newcastle contract, before belatedly joining Russian club Anzhi on a free transfer in August.
He recently got his first game, coming on as sub for the last 27 minutes in a 2-0 home defeat by Spartak Moscow in front of 14,300 spectators – maybe now he might be thinking he could have tried just a little bit harder when at St James Park…
As for Henri Saivet, he claims that in his final game for Newcastle (it wasn’t, he came on in the final minute of the 1-0 win over West Brom), when he was subbed an English player on the bench told him he was the ‘best player on the pitch’ and couldn’t believe why he’d been taken off.
The unused subs that day were Gouffran, Taylor, Darlow, Doumbia, whilst Dummett had been subbed earlier, so the only possibilities would be Darlow, Steven Taylor or Dummett, if it’s actually true…
“When I arrived (at Newcastle) I told myself that the French must have let themselves go, as it (French players struggling for game-time) didn’t make sense otherwise.
“Then I quickly realised that French players, who played less, were just as good, if not better, than the English.
“Little by little I then realised what was going on at the club and it was really weird. Yoan Gouffran and Gabriel Obertan for example, were, for me, way better than those who would start.
“When I arrived, Steve McClaren was clear, I was to play. Competition is never a problem to me just so long as the best person plays.
“For my first match I came on against West Ham and it went well, the manager saying: “Keep going, that’s good’.
“We then lost at Watford and I came off in the 55th minute and the manager told me I was taken off for tactical reasons…then we played Everton and same again, (taken off) for tactical reasons.
“I got to the bench and an English player asked me why I came off as he didn’t understand, he told me I was the best player on the pitch. From then on, there was nothing. I never played (for Newcastle) again.”