One of the few main disappointments last season, Mohamed Diame never looked like he was a level above the Championship.
It says it all when the main (only?) memory of him last season, was the fluke goal at Brighton that the midfielder knew nothing about.
This season was simply more of the same, for a player who had only played in the Premier League in England before scoring 10 goals to help Hull get promoted, Mohamed Diame looked anything but a Premier League player.
To be fair he’d had only four starts until the West Ham away match which was the turning point.
That 3-2 win over the Hammers when he partnered Henri Saivet in the centre of midfield was the first of 10 starts in 11 games, Newcastle only losing to Liverpool and Man City in that time.
For Diame to now be one of the first names on the teamsheet is pretty remarkable.
The midfielder says that the Southampton match is like a cup final that Newcastle ‘have to win’.
I wouldn’t disagree.
A win and I think Newcastle will end up comfortably staying in the Premier League, anything less and there is going to be massive pressure building up in the three weeks without a game, before the Huddersfield home game.
At this stage of the season it is all going to be about which players/teams can handle the pressure.
In a league table published yesterday of games played since December, Newcastle are comfortably mid-table and if they keep that form up, then there won’t be a problem.
With points lost from winning positions, such as against Bournemouth, Mohamed Diame says Newcastle have to ‘stay focused from the first minute until the end’.
I think the build up to Saturday has been pretty low key considering just what is at stake, I just hope that both players and fans are well up for turning up the pressure on the visitors at 3pm on Saturday.
Mohamed Diame talking to The Chronicle:
“The team needs to stay confident, believe in what we are doing.
“There are some little details we need to change, make sure we’re focused, because we’ve dropped too many points already.
“We have been winning in some games and ended up drawing at the last minute.
“It is just small details and those details must come at the end.
“We just have to keep going, stay focused from the first minute until the end.
“Southampton are in the same situation as us so it is a massive game, an important one, we need to give everything on the pitch.
“We knew that it would be tough at Liverpool and that they’d start sharply with a good tempo, we had a game plan and we tried to stick together.
“We wanted to keep the shape and have a counter-attack to try to score.
“Southampton is massive for us – it’s like a final that we must win.”