Newcastle United were back on song on Tuesday - and Steven Taylor believes the new arrivals are singing from the same hymn sheet as the rest of the squad. Chief sports writer Mark Douglas reports
IN a five-star hotel on the outskirts of England’s second city, the second phase of Newcastle United’s French revolution began in earnest.
This was 24 hours before Moussa Sissoko stepped up to deliver a performance brimming with promise and pedigree – and a full day before Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa’s outstretched toe saved Newcastle from conceding the most deflating of equalisers at Villa Park.
In the confines of United’s West Midlands base, the process of integrating the new arrivals was kick-started in the same way it is for every fresh face: with a song.
It is a tradition which stretches back to the days of Kevin Nolan’s captaincy, when United were moving away from the days of the bloated egos which dragged them down.
It is intended to show everyone in black-and-white is equal – whether they’re Gael Bigirimana doing the Thriller dance in front of wide-eyed team-mates or Taylor himself belting out Westlife.
It is a uniquely English tradition, but Pardew had no intention of altering it just for the sake of Newcastle’s Gallic revolution.
At the front of things? Taylor, the hometown hero whose North East grit was so welcome as Aston Villa pressed on Tuesday.
He takes up the story: “The manager presented each of the new players with a shirt and made them stand up in front of the group and say why they want to be here.
“It was in French, but translated into English for the boys. We listened to what they had to say and that was touching for us.
“They said they wanted to be accepted into the team and promised they’d give 100%.
“That was exactly what we wanted to hear.
“Afterwards, some of the players got the French boys to sing in front of us. That got the banter going, it was a real welcome to the group.
“They might have been a bit embarrassed about it, but fair play to them, they got up there without arguing.
“I gave them the opportunity to do it all together like Boyz II Men but it was a French song, I couldn’t really understand it.