Subbed Cabaye leaps to defence of his manager

SHORT-LIVED CELEBRATIONS: Yohan Cabaye takes the applause of the Gallowgate after scoring a first-half free-kick, but saw two Adam le Fondre goals cancel Newcastle's lead at St James Park

SHORT-LIVED CELEBRATIONS: Yohan Cabaye takes the applause of the Gallowgate after scoring a first-half free-kick, but saw two Adam le Fondre goals cancel Newcastle's lead at St James Park

First published in Sport The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Football/Golf Writer

YOHAN CABAYE has urged Newcastle United supporters not to blame Alan Pardew for the Frenchman’s costly second- half withdrawal during the defeat to Reading.

Moments after the Royals had grabbed an equaliser through Adam le Fondre at St James’ Park, Pardew instructed fourth official Mark Halsey to hold up Cabaye’s number to allow the more defensively- minded Gael Bigirimana to enter the action.

It was a decision which infuriated the Newcastle supporters, just ten minutes after they had made their disgust known when attacking midfielder Sylvain Marveaux was withdrawn to allow holding midfielder James Perch to come on.

The two decisions proved more costly after le Fondre had grabbed a second, with Newcastle short of alternative creative midfield options.

Pardew admitted afterwards it was a mistake to take Marveaux off when he did, but Cabaye was keen to put the record straight after his first start since November 4.

“I asked to come off because my groin became tight,” said Cabaye, whose return to action as a substitute at Norwich a week earlier was sooner than expected after hernia surgery.

“I didn’t want to take any risks on my first start for so long. The pitch was very heavy. I think it was the right decision for me.

“The fans were very angry but they did not realise I needed to come off. They should not blame the manager for that. It was my decision. I was also feeling tired.

“You cannot expect a player to be 100 per cent in my situation.

I was not fit enough to finish the game. That was why I came off. It is unfair to blame the manager when it was me who made the decision.

“I was afraid about my groin. I have come back from surgery and did not want to get pain again. I am not worried now because I came off. I think I will be alright for the weeks ahead.”

With a trip to the team immediately below them, Aston Villa, next up for Newcastle on Tuesday week before dates with Chelsea and Tottenham, Newcastle could ill-afford to have Cabaye out for the long term again.

The 27-year-old has had to watch from the sidelines as the Magpies have dropped alarmingly down the Premier League table – to within two points of the bottom three – in his absence. He admits the atmosphere in the dressing room has changed.

“The confidence is a lot lower to what it was when I was last in it,” he said. “There is a difference. It is low. That means we need to stick together to keep our heads up because we are in bad position.

“We must stay calm because there are a lot of games still to play. We must work hard and fight every week to get the points we need to stay in the Premier League. That is what is most important.”

“The fans were behind us from the start, but it is up to the players, we are the ones on the pitch who have to do it for this club.

“The results have not been good enough. We have had a lot of injuries. There is still quality in this squad. We lost Demba Ba, he was a big player for us. Now we just need to get some impetus to get us going.”

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