Byline: Lee Ryder
ONCE upon the Tyne, having Frenchman David Ginola in Newcastle United's starting XI was regarded as a novelty.
That was back in 1995.
Fast forward to 2013 and we are facing the prospect of the Magpies fielding just one Englishman in a line-up of overseas stars.
And who knows, we could yet see a starting line-up packed with players who've arrived from Ligue 1! But in a week when Alan Pardew has had seven-year-old quotes thrown back in his face about overloading teams with overseas players - perhaps it is worth considering just how much times have changed in the Premier League.
And just how much greed exists in the game these days when it comes to signing English players.
It is easy to slam clubs for dipping into the foreign market.
But given Newcastle have a limited budget and are still expected to compete with the top clubs in the Premier League, they have two options open.
Quite simply, they pay through the nose for overvalued English players or they look to the Continent.
While West Ham manager and in the aftermath of Arsenal fielding a team that contained no Brits, Pardew said: "I saw a headline saying Arsenal are flying the flag of Britain.
"I kind of wondered where that British involvement actually was when I looked at their team. It's important that top clubs don't lose sight of the fact that it's the English Premier League."
But it would be wrong to brand Pardew a dinosaur just because of a few old quotes.
Indeed, his vision at Newcastle is still very much all about bringing in local talent.
Going back to 2006 is one thing, but only last year he told me at the club's training ground: "We won't always go overseas. We'll be looking for Geordies and putting emphasis into the Academy. "Who is to say we won't bring in a kid from Hartlepool or Carlisle?" Youngsters like Adam Campbell and Remie Streete will also get their chance to join the likes of Steven Taylor and Shola Ameobi in a first-team dressing room that still contains a British core of Ryan Taylor, James Perch, Shane Ferguson, Steve Harper, Dan Gosling and Mike Williamson.
That doesn't mean that the Academy needs to be looked at, but we're still not producing enough Geordie talent these days.
That will only come with time and perhaps a change of attitude from stars who think they've made it too quickly - and the Academy remains a cause for concern.
This was a subject I touched on just a fortnight ago, and if the arrival of 20-year-old Massadio Haidara from Nancy wasn't a wake-up call for players in the development squad, then I don't know what will be.
But this isn't about United's reserves, this is about making sure Newcastle have the players to get out of the mess they find themselves in right now - and at a price that doesn't put them in danger of being relegated with a huge wage bill like QPR, who could be on course to be the next Portsmouth if they aren't careful. So United's boss will also welcome his Ligue 1 stars warmly as he prepares for a better second half of the season, and why shouldn't he, there are now Ligue 1 title winners in his dressing room.
Only this week Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa said he signed for Newcastle because he was lured with "open arms" to Tyneside.
They will be accommodated.
Pardew has always talked about moving with the times, or in his own words: "Moving with the dressing room."
He became the first manager in Newcastle's history to instruct the club to construct a prayer and multi-faith room at the training ground and St James' Park.
Indeed, there are few managers in the game who are as open to ideas as Pardew.
This week at Arsenal a long list of dos and don'ts were leaked to the media about how players can't use modern technology in the dressing room. …