Forgive and forget?
After Yohan Cabaye replaced Cheick Tiote as Newcastle captain on Saturday, football's willingness to forgive and forget continues to reign supreme. Matt Stanger isn't overly impressed with this modern trend...
By Matt Stanger
Last Updated: 03/11/13 7:40pm
When Cheick Tiote was substituted 53 minutes into Newcastle's brilliant 2-0 win over Chelsea, the captain's armband was passed to Yohan Cabaye. It was a significant moment for the home side - a symbol of the tough stance they took over Arsenal's interest in the Frenchman in the summer - but it also underlined the obscene growth of player power in the modern game.
After Arsenal's bid was leaked to the media in August, Cabaye allowed his head to be turned 180 degrees as he sought to push through a move to the Emirates. Just over two months and another reluctant 180 degrees later, it seems all is forgiven as the 27-year-old captained Newcastle to their biggest result of the season so far.
But Cabaye's attempts to force Newcastle's hand were not half-hearted. It was reported that he refused to play in two matches - the 4-0 defeat to Man City and a 0-0 draw at home to West Ham - depriving Newcastle of a much better chance of gaining a result in both fixtures. Should such insubordination be so easily forgotten?
"That was a difficult situation because I've got a great relationship with Yohan," Alan Pardew told the Chronicle in October. "When a player comes in and is trying to force a move, which really and truly he was trying to do - which happens at other clubs, we're not the only club that's happened to - then it's difficult and we had some words."
However, Cabaye's recent performances and stunning strikes against Everton and Liverpool have helped him win back over the manager - as well as the majority of supporters - with Pardew saying last week: "With the captaincy I thought 'Hmm, not quite right just yet' but I am sure he will be captain of this club at some point going forward."
So short is football's memory that 'going forward' is a step as short as seven days, as Cabaye took Tiote's armband and delivered a perfect free-kick to set up Yoan Gouffran's opening goal on Saturday. Had he helped Newcastle to victory against a Premier League lesser-weight, or had they been performing much better in recent weeks, then the significance of Cabaye's contribution may have been minimal. As it turns out, he has benefited from the current circumstances at the club to repair his relationship almost immediately.
But who is to say that Cabaye's refusal to play at the start of the season didn't have a knock-on effect to harm the focus in the rest of the squad? It is clearly a disruption for any side to lose their best player - even more so when it's the result of transfer speculation - with Pardew bemoaning Arsenal's timing in the transfer window rather than Cabaye's selfish actions.
The Frenchman is not the only example of disobedience being rewarded this season either, with Wayne Rooney receiving rapturous support from Manchester United fans in the 0-0 draw against summer suitors Chelsea and then awarded the captaincy by David Moyes for the League Cup clash against Liverpool. "Wayne has certainly always had the ability to be a captain," said Moyes this week. "In his own way he leads by example in what he tries to do. I think he could be a future skipper here."
On a weekend in which Cabaye captained Newcastle to victory over Chelsea, Rooney scored in United's romp at Fulham and Luis Suarez leads the line for Liverpool against Arsenal after trying to force a move to the Gunners, football's willingness to forgive and forget has never been more apparent.
The bad examples are the examples to which others should supposedly aspire, but there is something quite depressing about the fact that talent remains paramount while conduct is forever considered an afterthought.