Premier League bootroom: No need for pain in French revolution
23:41 GMT, 1 February 2013
23:51 GMT, 1 February 2013
Seeing so many French players arrive at Newcastle reminds me of when Arsene Wenger turned up at Arsenal in 1996.
Newcastle have added Mathieu Debuchy,
Moussa Sissoko, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Yoan Gouffran and Massadio Haidara
to their squad and we did a similar thing during our most successful
Wenger brought in Emmanuel Petit,
Gilles Grimandi, Remi Garde, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires, Nicolas
Anelka, Sylvain Wiltord and Thierry Henry (below).
You could see they were all coming in ready to win something. It was impressive and a challenge to the rest of us.
Some things changed straight away. I used to go to the gym after training but suddenly I couldn’t get a machine because the French were all in there tuning up different parts of their bodies. They were generally very quiet at first off the pitch — because of the language barriers they couldn’t join in the dressing-room banter straight away.
Wenger made a point of conducting everything in English, which helped them learn the language but he occasionally had a quiet word in French with some of the new boys. But they learned English fast — I’m sure Henry couldn’t speak English one week and the next he was better than me.
In Toon: Newcastle fans embrace the influx of French players while Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit (below) celebrate Arsenal's triumph in 1998
There was of course some resistance to the influx of players. Some of the Brits felt the French lads were more quickly praised and indulged in training on occasions. If we talked during the warm-up we’d get a ticking off, while if they did the same it wouldn’t be mentioned. But any wariness soon disappeared as we started winning things. It will be the same at Newcastle. If they win games, the fans and rest of the dressing room will love them.
Some of our values rubbed off on the French players too, particularly our will to win. We trained at 100 per cent in every session while the French peaked for matches.
Main man: Theo Walcott has become a central figure for Arsene Wenger's side this season
It was important to retain that Britishness and Wenger is still doing that by having Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and others in the team.
We gave our French team-mates important information too, warning them that a trip to Ipswich or West Ham was going to be tougher than they thought. No doubt the new boys at Newcastle will be guided by their team-mates too.
Play the game
Our top managers were wheeled out to
say nice things on the FA’s 150th anniversary. Now they have to follow
up and help Roy Hodgson. He has World Cup qualifiers coming up and needs
to see his squad together, against Brazil on Wednesday. We can’t have
tactical withdrawals just to give players a rest.
Becks misses a trick
It’s a shame that David Beckham has
joined Paris Saint-Germain. I would have liked to have see n him in the
Premier League one last time to see what he had to offer. He’s from the
same stable as Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, who are doing meaningful
jobs at Manchester United. I think playing again in England would have helped cement his place as one of the greats.