HATEM Ben Arfa has been challenged to fill the creative void left at Newcastle United by the departure of Yohan Cabaye – and save the club’s season!
The club failed to sign a replacement for Cabaye before last night’s transfer deadline.
United manager Alan Pardew admitted before Cabaye’s sale that his exit would leave his team “vulnerable”.
And his fears were confirmed when Newcastle’s efforts to sign a midfielder came to nothing.
Eighth-placed United, six points off the Europa League spot, are now in danger of drifting in the Premier League - unless Ben Arfa’s “creative flair”can be harnessed.
The weight of creative responsibility will now fall on Ben Arfa’s shoulders, while Pardew has also suggested that Sylvain Marveaux will be rehabilitated after four months in the cold at St James’s Park.
“Hatem and Sammy (Ameobi) – and Marveaux and (Gabriel) Obertan, to a degree – are going to have to give us some more creative flair,” Pardew said.
Importantly, in Pardew’s view, the spirit in the dressing room hasn’t been affected by Cabaye’s departure, and he was heartened by the performances of Ben Arfa and Sammy Ameobi in the club’s goalless draw against Norwich City on Tuesday night.
“Personally, I never had a fear over that,” said Pardew.
“What I did fear was missing Yohan’s quality, and I was buoyed by the performance of Hatem and Sammy.
“We’ll have to progress with what we’ve got.
“I don’t think there’ll be a problem with (team spirit), but results have an impact on that.
“We’ve got to try to keep the same form we’ve had up to now until the end, and see if we can finish eighth or above.”
Any fears that there would be a negative reaction in the dressing room to Cabaye’s sale were quelled by a spirited performance on the pitch at Carrow Road.
“Sometimes you’ll be surprised to see how players react,” said Pardew.
“They were sad to see him go – we all were – because he’s a great player and a great person.
“But on the other hand, we wish him well.
“He’s got a transfer to a huge club with Champions League football. We wish him well.”