YOHAN Cabaye says Newcastle fans should blame him and not Alan Pardew for the contentious substitution that riled St James’ Park.
The midfielder allayed fears that his groin problem was a serious enough problem to rule him out of the critical Aston Villa clash in eight days’ time, but said that he had requested the change that left a disbelieving home crowd venting their anger at the manager.
Cabaye had been United’s outstanding player in a fine first half, curling in the free-kick that put them in the ascendancy against Reading. But he tired in the second half and asked to be brought off, having been convinced that the team would be able to see out the game.
He explained: “I asked to come off because my groin became tight. I didn’t want to take any risks on my first start for so long. I have come back much earlier than was planned. The pitch was very heavy. I think it was the right decision for me.
“The fans were very angry but they did not realise I needed to come off. They should not blame the manager for that. It was my decision. I was also feeling tired. You cannot expect a player to be 100% in my situation. I was not fit enough to finish the game. That was why I came off.
“It is unfair to blame the manager when it was me who made the decision. I was afraid about my groin. I have come back from surgery and did not want to get pain again. I am not worried now because I came off. I think I will be all right.”
A distraught Cabaye admitted that he had no idea that Newcastle would lose when he came off. “It did not occur to me that we would lose the game,” he said. “In this league you can’t afford to relax in this league for one moment. It only takes a few seconds to win a game. Reading turned it around.
“What happened today we couldn’t foresee and we are all bitterly disappointed.
“In the first half I thought we played well, had many chances to score and win the game.
“In the second half we lacked some energy to push on and score that vital second goal.” Cabaye says United must “stay calm” in the face of a bitter relegation battle.
He said: “The confidence is a lot lower to what it was when I was last in it.
“There is a difference. It is low. That means we need to stick together to keep our heads up because we are in a bad position now.
“We must stay calm because there are a lot of games still to play.
“We must work hard and fight every week to get the points we need to stay in the Premier League. That is what is most important.”