WITH his slight frame, Remy Cabella does not look like he would have the strength to hold off the challenges of some of the Premier League’s biggest and most powerful defenders.
But after giving Vincent Kompany, Aleksander Kolarov and Martin Demichelis more than enough to think about during Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester City, Cabella suggested he could have the tricks to deal with what the English game throws his way at Newcastle United.
Magpies’ supporters love a flair player and, after witnessing the France international display his array of twists and turns to go with his step-overs, the £7m buy from Montpellier looks certain to be the latest fans’ favourite on Tyneside.
Regardless of the size of the defenders he comes up against, Cabella’s quick movement and ability to go undetected could present headaches for every defence he comes up against this season.
And, after an encouraging competitive debut in a black and white shirt, he predicts there is much more to come than a few flashes here and there of his ability against the Premier League champions.
Cabella said: “I performed relatively well against Manchester City, so I’m reasonably happy. Perhaps I could have been more efficient to get a goal or an assist, that’s what I like to do.
“But I was decent enough in the way I played, so I am satisfied. I was certainly not unhappy with my performance. Yet I know I can certainly build on it and I’m sure I will have more to offer in future weeks for Newcastle.”
Foreign players often need time to adjust to the different approach which Premier League teams and players often take to the other leagues around the world. Plenty of Newcastle’s recruits from the continent have needed more than six months to acclimatise and familiarise themselves with the change of tactics and styles.
Cabella found on Sunday that he was singled out for some strong attention from the blue shirts after a first half an hour in which he was not afraid to use his trickery, which is often described as showboating and annoys opponents.
But in facing the champions on his first outing, he thinks he is ready for the rest of the season starting with this Saturday’s trip to Aston Villa.
He said: “We have played the best team in the league, we know what to expect now. We did not embarrass ourselves and we have to try to get a win at Villa next weekend to make sure we build on this performance.
“For me, I now know what to expect from this league because I have played against the best team already. I just have to keep performing, to get better and to get more used to the Premier League. Manchester City was a big test for me and for the team and I think that it went well, even if we lost. I have learned a lot.”
Cabella, born in Corsica, is only 24 and moving to the Premier League has always been one of his big ambitions, as was going to the World Cup in the summer when he was called up to replace Franck Ribery.
For a decade he has been making progress with Montpellier before Newcastle finally agreed a £7m deal for the playmaker earlier this summer. Since then he has imagined what it would be like to make his debut at St James’ Park – and he was not disappointed by events.
“The atmosphere was exceptional,” said Cabella. “I was a little disappointed with the result because it would have been nice to start with a victory in my first game with Newcastle in the Premier League. We can take positives from the performance and move on from this though.
“You never really know what to expect when you play at a new stadium and I didn’t even though you do think about it, play it out in your head over and over. But it’s difficult to know for sure, even if I have been and had a good look around.
“But as soon as you get on the pitch, you feel it and I have to say a massive thank you to all of the fans because they were brilliant. Hopefully we can repay those fans with a few victories in the next few weeks because they were fantastic.”
Newcastle fans looking to go to Gillingham for next Tuesday’s Capital One Cup second round tie are now on sale to season ticket holders with zero loyalty points. From 1pm on Wednesday, they will then be released to members.
The Magpies have been given an allocation of 1,295, and tickets cost £20 for adults, £15 for over-65s, £10 for under-18s and £7 for under-12s.