Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has lauded Moussa Sissoko after the debutant played a key role in his team’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Tuesday.
The French international, who joined the Premier League outfit last Friday, took just 19 minutes to make a mark in his first taste of English football by setting up Papiss Cisse for the opening goal.
Yohan Cabaye doubled Newcastle’s lead before half-time and Pardew’s struggling side held on to secure their first away win of the season, much to the manager’s delight.
“When you’re looking for players and you’re trying to find the secret ingredient for your team, it’s not always easy for them to come out as fit as they did in the first half,” he said.
“I was a little bit surprised myself if I’m honest, Sissoko really grabbed the game by the horns, and that’s what we needed.”
Newcastle have added five French players during the January window, with Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Yoan Gouffran, Massadio Haidara and Mathieu Debuchy also joining, and, despite Sissoko’s excellent display, Pardew feels it will take some time for the new recruits to settle in.
“The French boys certainly felt the difference between Premier League and Ligue 1,” Pardew said.
“A team comes out in Ligue 1 two down, they’re going to try and pass through you and create a moment, not in the Premier League, they’re coming at you full steam and we got caught out there. That’s where they have to learn quickly.
“We worked really hard this week on integrating players, they’re not here to save us, they’re here to help us. We had a nice night last night in the hotel, you kind of sensed that there was a good feeling amongst them all.”
The home loss saw Villa drop into the relegation zone on goal difference as their poor run of form extended to just one win from their previous 10 Premier League outings.
But manager Paul Lambert was upbeat at full-time after a valiant second-half display nearly saw the Villans snatch a point.
“That’s the first time I’ve seen a standing ovation when you’ve been beat, especially at home,” Lambert said.
“But it’s sometimes easy to play when you’re 2-0 down because nobody expects anything then, you come out of the traps and get the early goal and you become relentless after that, but you’ve got to start like that.”
The former Norwich boss received the public backing of owner Randy Lerner on Monday and, while often seen as a hallmark of an imminent dismissal, Lambert is keen to repay the faith shown in him and steer Villa away from danger.
“Randy’s been great, I’ve got nothing bad to say about him and it’s always good to get support from the people that hire you and all I can do is do my best to try and turn it around. I’ve a good relationship with him,” he said.