The helicopter that took Mike Ashley to the Newcastle training ground was to say bonjour rather than au revoir. Two years ago, the same mode of transport carried Andy Carroll to Liverpool in a sale worth £35m. Ashley, the Newcastle owner, flew in to say hello to the five French players the club has signed in January.
"He just wanted to see the new players and this was the first opportunity he had," said Alan Pardew, who has bought Moussa Sissoko, Mathieu Debuchy, Yoan Gouffran, Massadio Haidara and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa in the past month.
"I don't think Mike speaks French but he said hello," said Pardew. "They all came to see him and he asked them a couple of questions and they asked him a couple of questions. Mike is a personable person, he's a good communicator. He has to be, in the business he's in.
"He's backed me. There is no getting away from the results we've had this year have not been good enough for this club. I think we all appreciate we did need to strengthen and fortunately it gives me an opportunity to turn the situation around."