Newcastle United midfielder Yohan Cabaye has hit back at suggestions of a split in the dressing room, suggesting that a poor pre-season was to blame for the club's unspectacular 2012-13 campaign.
Cabaye remained a key figure for the club as they narrowly avoided relegation on the penultimate weekend of the Premier League season. Joined by a number of his French compatriots in January, disastrous form in April saw accusations of a dressing--room divide involving the club's Francophone contingent.
Speaking on the influx of players from Ligue 1, however, Cabaye told the Shields Gazette: "It helped [the team], but in some ways it didn't, as they constantly had to rely on things being translated, and also speaking French. But with regards to the overall group, there were never any tension.
"There is no doubt that if the group was working well, people would have said 'ah that's great, that the French have come to help the club'. Unfortunately it did not work that well, so obviously it became our fault, for the ones who arrived in January.
"It is a good job that we managed to save ourselves before the last match as playing at home with the pressure of the public would have made it harder. Also, it would have led to some bad publicity for the French players. They arrived in numbers in January, and at the beginning it worked well, and then we went through a bad period."
Newcastle have yet to confirm their pre-season plans, though a proposed trip to Africa for the Vodacom Challenge has been ruled out. With games against Motherwell and Blackpool already rumoured to be close to confirmation, Cabaye is hoping the club mistakes of last season can at least be learned from.
"If we had been relegated it would have been very difficult, and we needed to avoid it come what may. It is important not to attribute all this negativity to the group who arrived in January. We will use this to help us for next season. It was a complicated season. To pinpoint reasons for this, I don't really know, it is a bit of everything.
"We did not particularly prepare well in pre-season; the beginning of the season; Europe and the extra matches; plus a smaller squad and a younger one. We encountered difficulties in playing in two competitions, also physically a lot of injuries and players were missing. We rarely managed the same starting XI in consecutive matches - all this added to the complication."