For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Taylor is helping Yanga-Mbiwa feel at home on and off the field
THEY have had to overcome a language barrier since being paired at the heart of Newcastle United's back line, but Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa admits his partnership with Steven Taylor is flourishing - thanks to some French car CDs.
Taylor and Yanga-Mbiwa produced a match-winning defensive display to help secure Newcastle's place in the quarter-finals of the Europa League, despite having only played together three times prior to Thursday night's 1-0 aggregate win over Anzhi Makhachkala.
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew was keen to ease the £6.7m defender in after his January move to Tyneside, but injury to Fabricio Coloccini has seen a new partnership formed and it appears to be going from strength to strength.
Taylor, in particular, was formidable against Anzhi, and the Greenwich-born defender continues to impress despite not receiving a call-up to Roy Hodgson's England squad this week.
The 27-year-old revealed soon after Newcastle's January influx of French players that he had bought some CDs to learn the language and Yanga-Mbiwa admitted his French is improving.
"He speaks to me in English (on the pitch), but sometimes in the morning before training he makes an effort and speaks to me in French," he revealed.
"It is logical. Steven is here to help me, he talks to me a lot. He is here to help me adapt into the English game and into Newcastle's style of play as well. He is always talking to me on the pitch, he makes me feel good and playing alongside him is good.
"Steven is Steven. He is a funny guy. He is a kind guy and he is a great footballer.
"He is someone who literally puts his body on the line. He does absolutely everything, gives his all, to try and win the ball back and do his defensive duties. Seeing that for real on the pitch it gives you a massive example to work towards. It is fantastic to see."
After the final whistle on Thursday, Taylor walked around the pitch at St James' Park to applaud the crowd. The larger than life defender has received some stick for dancing around to put off Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic last weekend, but his team-mate finds it funny.
"He is a little crazy - sometimes when he teases the goalkeeper!" the Frenchman said.
The pair did brilliantly to keep Anzhi forward Samuel Eto'o at bay and Yanga-Mbiwa hopes he and Taylor can take their performance into the rest of the domestic season as well.
He said: "It is a great experience for a defender to keep attackers of that quality quiet. Over the last two matches we managed to succeed in that and that will also hold us in good stead in the league as well."
The Magpies were paired with Portuguese league leaders Benfica in the quarter-finals and after seeing off the Russian billionaires, the centre-back believes the squad can go on to win the competition.
"We have got every chance to go all the way in the competition and do well. We must work hard and continue to trust ourselves on the pitch, continue to believe in ourselves, and even if we can't score in the match we know we can go out there and get a goal at the end which we did against Anzhi."
With Tyneside desperate for a trophy, Yanga-Mbiwa revealed the players were reminded of the Magpies' 50-year trophy drought before Thursday's game and the 23-year-old hopes the current squad can bring some silverware to Tyneside.
He said: "We are here now and we are going to give 100 per cent to go out there and try to win and try and get that trophy.
"We want people who support Newcastle to be happy and they think that we should be up there with the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham. We should be up there and I think we deserve to be in the top six in the league.
"There has been some up and downs but we have to face up to it and all that we can do is go out there and try our very best to make amends."