With Florian Thauvin the latest of the high profile French players to sign up at St James Park, Steve McClaren was collared by a French journalist, who asked him what his countrymen need to do to succeed at Newcastle United?
Whilst Yohan Cabaye was undoubtedly a success at United, Mathieu Debuchy as well in his brief stay.
A succession of French players, including internationals, have failed at Newcastle and had to move on, or are in the process of doing so.
Hatem Ben Arfa and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa are probably the two highest profile cases, though even Moussa Sissoko is generally seen on the other side of the Channel as a player who hasn’t really progressed at St James Park.
Other players who have struggled include Marveaux, Amalfitano, Haidara struggling for a game behind both Dummett and Santon until injury/transfer, plus Gouffran now out in the cold.
This has made the public in France wonder about the wisdom of their players still signing for Newcastle, with the Thauvin move putting the topic back in the headlines this month. Especially with Remy Cabella heading back in the other direction at the same time after a pretty miserable year at Newcastle.
Steve McClaren was asked before the match at Old Trafford by a French journalist at his press conference, about the prospects for Florian Thauvin and French players in general at Newcastle.
Here is his question and Steve McClaren’s response:
‘What does a French player have to do to succeed at Newcastle?’
“What he (Thauvin) has to do is score goals, get the fans excited, he has to do his job on the pitch and off the field.
“We want to create a team which the fans are proud of.”
Potential, ability..have to perform:
“And Thauvin wants to, needs to, become a part of that. He has got the potential, he has got the ability.
“Now all the players, doesn’t matter what nationality, they have to perform on the field for the fans.”
The bottom line is that Steve McClaren can’t take responsibility for the players he has inherited, French or whatever, though you can expect him to try and get the best out of what he has been left with.
He obviously has already made a judgement on Gouffran, whilst it is hard to see Marveaux having a future at the club, especially with the raised level of competition from the likes of Thauvin.
At least in the short-term, both Obertan and Haidara have been given their chance under Steve McClaren and it is up to them whether they take it.
I think safe to say that the jury is out on both of them so far, though Obertan did ok against Southampton and Haidara had a good game at Old Trafford.
I think fair to say that Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa was messed around by Alan Pardew and not given a proper chance, whilst Hatem Ben Arfa is of course a law unto himself – for better or worse. As for Cabella, the next year or two will tell us if he has what it takes to be a success, whether it is in his native France or England.
As McClaren indicates in his reply to the French journalist, it isn’t about where a player comes from, it is about how they do on the pitch and their desire to play for Newcastle United.
Hopefully Florian Thauvin can increase that French success rate at St James Park.
Cabaye and Debuchy, as well as Loic Remy in his loan year, showed that if you are good enough then no reason why you can’t do the business on Tyneside.