MAPOU Yanga-Mbiwa issued a battle cry to his new Newcastle United team-mates on his first day at the club – calling on them to be ‘warriors’ in a bid to beat relegation.
The French international defender’s arrival on Tyneside comes as the Magpies find themselves in a scrap at the bottom of the Premier League.
Yanga-Mbiwa comes with a reputation as a classy operator who reads the game well at the back.
But he is also more than prepared to get physical to help Newcastle climb the table.
And he has called on his new team-mates to show the same fighting qualities to help lead the club away from danger between now and the end of the season.
“The English Premier League is very physical,” the 23-year-old told SportMail in his first round of interviews since joining Newcastle.
“But what we have to do is build a very strong team, and make sure that we have a team that doesn’t give up.
“We need to be warriors on the pitch. We will be looking to win as many of the last 15 games in the league as we can.”
There is no doubt that Newcastle need the tough defensive resolve and leadership that Yanga-Mbiwa showed in leading Montpellier to the French title last season.
United have leaked goals alarmingly this season, after their success of last year was built on a mean defence.
Yanga-Mbiwa clearly loves defending, however, and his eyes lit up when he described his style of play.
“If I had to describe my style I would class myself as a typical defender,” he said.
“My defensive role is to win as many challenges and defensive battles as possible, and to win every possible ball.
“As a defender, I am the first one to collect the ball and distribute it to other members of the team, which is what I will be working hard to do.
“I will do what I do best, which is to defend, and to defend well.
“I will be trying to win as many challenges as I can in defence.
“I’ll be trying to get some goals as well.
“I will be looking to give opposition forwards the most difficult time they can possibly imagine.”
Yanga-Mbiwa became the club’s second capture from France of the transfer window, following Mathieu Debuchy into the club, and joining fellow Francophiles Yohan Cabaye, Sylvain Marveaux, Hatem Ben Arfa, Gabriel Obertan, Mehdi Abeid and Romain Amalfitano at the club.
And he admits he spoke to some of his new team-mates before deciding to sign for Newcastle.
“I have spoken with Marveaux and Cabaye about coming here.
“The club has been very welcoming to me – not just the club, but the players themselves. They have made everything available to help me settle in the best as possible.
“The French players that have arrived before were made to feel very comfortable. They transmitted that to me, and it made me feel very comfortable about it all as soon as I started here.”