Mathieu Debuchy admits struggles
Newcastle defender Mathieu Debuchy has admitted that he found it hard to adapt to playing for a team fighting against relegation in the English Premier League.
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Debuchy, 28, signed for the Magpies in January but he endured a tough first six months in England as his new club suffered a nervy end to the season.
With Newcastle struggling to a 16th-placed finish, the former Lille right back looked uncomfortable at times and he was sent off in the 6-0 home defeat to Liverpool in April.
"At Newcastle, we experienced a difficult period," he told RMC Sport. "It’s the first time that I was fighting against relegation.
"Every so often, I was a little more on edge. It’s definitely down to that. I’ve got to cut out these mistakes -- I’m going to find a solution to them. But I’ve gained in maturity."
Having left the more sedate environment of Ligue 1 behind him -- and brushed off speculation of a move to Monaco -- Debuchy should begin to feel more comfortable in the Premier League this season.
"It’s a complete change," he said of switching to English football. "I was able to see for myself -- the matches are two times as fast.
"There’s more intensity. There’s no stoppages. Every week we have difficult matches, even against the bottom team.
"Training is more intense -- the players give it everything. It’s really different."
Admitting that the club "came close to disaster" last season, Debuchy said he now hopes that he can make a more positive impact for Alan Pardew’s side.
"I’m allowed to push forward when appropriate and to participate in our attacks," he explained.
"Last year it was a bit difficult because the manager wanted me to stay in position defensively.
"That’s normal because we needed points and had to take as few risks as possible. We had to stay up.
"I hope it will be different this season. He told me to bring what I can to my side of the pitch."
Pardew has given the team no specific targets as yet, according to Debuchy, but the French international says that the players are determined to make up for their last campaign.
"We’re going to see how the first few matches go but we have to do a lot better than last season.
"Newcastle should be in the top half of the table so we’re going to fight. We don’t want to be battling against relegation again."