Mohamed Diame says its time for him to wake up Newcastle United – after a sleepy start to life at the club.
Diame will face former club Hull City in an EFL Cup quarter-final tie at the KCOM Stadium tonight.
The midfielder scored two goals in Newcastle’s 6-0 fourth-round win over Preston North End last month.
But Diame, signed from Hull in the summer for £4.5million, has struggled for form since arriving on Tyneside.
“I’m not pleased with my performances,” said the 29-year-old, who helped Hull win promotion to the Premier League last season.
“I’m disappointed with my start. I know last season was very long and very tough, and was my first in the Championship, so maybe I needed to refresh myself.
“I need to wake up because I have been sleeping since I got here.”
Asked why he had been “sleeping” on the field up to now, Diame added: “I feel it was a long season last year, so I used the international break (earlier this month) to refresh and see my family back home in Africa.
“I feel great now, and am convinced what I can give to Newcastle.
“To be honest, I have not played the football I have wanted to play since I’ve been here. The manager will always say he wants more from me, even if I am playing well.
“He is pushing me and telling me he wants more. All the good things will come if I keep working.
“Everyone who knows me, realises my game is about pushing and using my power.
“But I felt I was always running slowly. I did not recognise myself. Now, I say I am OK. I just needed to work a bit harder.
“The last game I felt at my best was the Championship play-off final.”
Diame says it was an “easy” decision to leave Hull and join Newcastle given the off-the-field problems at the KCOM Stadium. Manager Steve Bruce left the club and successor Mike Phelan was left with a threadbare squad.
Asked if he believe Hull supporters understood his decision, Diame said: “Yes, I Think they understand my decision to leave.
“When you see the size of the squad in pre-season and the manager leaving, it is not like I left Hull for a bad club.
“Newcastle called me. Rafa (Benitez) called me and it was an easy decision to make.”