AFTER a slow start to life on Tyneside, Sylvain Marveaux hopes he is the man to give Newcastle United a much-needed lift. After a series of chats with Alan Pardew and examining a number of re-runs of his previous displays, the Frenchman thinks the Premier League is about to see the best of him.
The 26-year-old never really got going last season. Moving as a free agent after leaving Rennes he arrived at St James' Park not completely fit, which was one of the reasons why a deal with Liverpool broke down.
The extra demands of the Premier League are difficult enough for a foreign player to adapt to, but Marveaux feels the adjustment was even harder because of his early injury problems.
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Newcastle, aiming to record a result that will prevent them from dropping into the bottom three this afternoon, need Marveaux to show he has finally come to life on the English stage at Norwich City. Otherwise a team bereft of Hatem Ben Arfa and yet to replace Demba Ba is likely to be toothless once more at Carrow Road.
"It has been quite difficult for me here," said Marveaux. "Last season, when I arrived here, I was just back from injury and then just when I got fit, I was injured again. So for the rest of the season, it was very hard but this season, I was fit and ready to play. I think I have just had to show the manager that I could be a Premier League player.
"I now understand what is required to play regularly in the Premier League. I have spoken to the manager many times about it. Even now, he is saying the same thing - what it takes to do well here. The Premier League really is different because of the incredible work rate. It is so much faster.
"Now he can see the big improvement in my game in terms of work rate. It is not just about in possession but out of possession too. That is a big deal, working without the ball."
Such was Marveaux's frustration after only making ten appearances in his first season at Newcastle he thought about a temporary departure.
He said: "I was never thinking it was the wrong move because I have always felt good at this club. I like the place but there was a time when I was thinking about moving on to find a solution for me to play because I was feeling good and fit but I was not being picked.
"I was probably thinking more about going out on loan than leaving Newcastle - just to get games, you know."
Having taken time to settle in to the Premier League way after leaving Ligue 1 behind his experience suggests it could be just as difficult for £5.5m new-boy Mathieu Debuchy to adapt following his transfer from Lille.
But Marveaux said: "It is different for him because it is a very different position he plays. We are not the same type of player. He is a defender and I think he will understand the game he needs to play and settle quickly.
"It will not be as big a difference for him as it was for me. For me, I do not play the same way as he plays. It is midfield and I had to add a few things to my game just to be useful for the manager."
Nine defeats from 11 in the Premier League have left Newcastle hovering nervously above the relegation zone ahead of a January of uncertainty. After Ba's exit, Fabricio Coloccini's future looks in serious doubt but Marveaux is the happiest he has been at St James' Park and desperate to spark a turnaround in fortunes.
"You know, I am just a quiet guy who gets on with his life so it is great here," said Marveaux. "I have found a good house. I just like it here. It is actually quite similar to where I used to live (in Rennes) but when you are in France, you are treated differently.
"Here, the people, they see you but they don't bother you. They respect you. They are really nice. They are real fans and they come up to you because they love the club so much. In France, it is not the same. I like this."
He added: "As a team we don't have anything to prove but obviously we have to win football matches for us and for the fans. Even in the bad run, I think we have done good things.
"I get the feeling we have a big win in us. It is something very little we need to get it. We are so close to getting it right. We are very close to that big win away from home to give us that confidence and for the fans as well. I really believe we are very close."