There is something different about reading Newcastle news of late. The usual combination of ever critical London based media and unsettling player talk seems to have subsided somewhat.
Negative news is a rarity over the past month. It is the polar opposite of what I expected after deadline day to be honest. Instead I find myself reading countless positive reports and interviews from media, management and players.
I guess positive vibes are to be expected after the start we have had. After all nothing helps a negative atmosphere more than getting back to football, most importantly getting results. It has been said though that Newcastle seem to be on a bit of a charm offensive. I agreed at first but it is coming from too many sources for it to be as simple as that.
I am convinced at this stage the players words and sentiments are genuine. The spirit everyone was worried we may lose with key players supposedly responsible leaving seems to be as good as ever. There is too much being said and too many players saying it for it simply to be a strategy on the part of the club to make things look bright.
Aside from who I would expect to be promoting a positive atmosphere in Alan Pardew and Captain Coloccini, the number of players who have spoken about the club, management and squad in a good light is well into double figures. It is not fringe players simply happy to still be here either. It is predominantly key first team players, new signings and the most promising youth talents. All the players you want to hear are focused, hungry and happy.
The latest tickled me. With the news that Coloccini has his own designated parking space, one of the perks of being captain I guess, Gutierrez was first out with something to say about it. It was great to see his reaction. Rather than doing a Joey, flipping the lid and demanding his own helicopter pad Jonas simply joked about it, saying he was going to turn up early and rob the space every morning. It was even better to hear him follow it up with praise for Coloccini as the new captain.
Danny Simpson, aside from getting ahead of himself slightly about our chances of winning the cup, has been very positive about our squad depth and youth potential. Clearly an advocate of healthy competition. Seems motivated by it if anything, wanting to prove he is worthy of being the choice for right back. As well as this he has also praised Pardew and the coaching staff for their work and methods in preparation for upcoming games.
Cheik Tiote is someone I love to hear from personally. If nothing else just to hear what is going on in demolition mans mind. I have this vision of him being similar to The Monk from Mean Machine. He really impresses me with what he says though, mainly his loyalty in spite of big club interest over the summer. More recently his praise of Yohan Cabaye and almost humble approach in saying he thinks Yohan will get the best out of him was great to hear. Aside from that what I like about him is he doesn’t seem the type to lose focus. He has belief in the teams ability to do well this season but knows every game is a tough one in the Premier League.
Steven Taylor has come in for praise from Pardew lately, his opinion being Taylor is worthy of consideration for an England call up. Slightly premature in my opinion but what I like is that Taylor himself showed no ego, merely passed comment when asked saying he would like to be in contention again. As regards Newcastle Taylor is always positive, but aside from praising the job we have done defensively so far has also commented on Cabaye and his budding partnership with Tiote, and also talked up Best in both his goalscoring form and work he does for the team which I liked.
Leon Best is another who has really impressed me. He seems to have a very good attitude for someone who has been on the fringes for a while. Rarely have I heard a player so hungry to prove himself, knowing well this is his opportunity to show everyone he is a good Premier League striker. He seems confident in his ability while not having an ego as a lot of strikers do. The goals have obviously helped his confidence no end and his all round performances have been good. I have faith in the lad personally.
In terms of our new players Cabaye has impressed me off the pitch as much as on it. He was nearly overwhelmed at first by the fans, specifically on derby day and seems really happy to be at Newcastle, saying how well he is settling in and the great team spirit at the club. For a lad that came from a league winning side in France, being an instrumental part of that side too, he has no ego whatsoever from what I can tell. Even though he was the best player on the pitch by a country mile against Villa his reaction was one of happiness to put in a good performance but more so a desire to improve on it although he was obviously slightly miffed by Shay Givens heroics and wants to get off the mark as soon as possible.
Hatem Ben Arfa has been here a while I still class as a new player to an extent due to the injuries and the fact he spent a lot of time in France during that time. Something from the summer I was surprised to hear was that he was talking the club up to a couple of our signings, mainly Mehdi Abeid and Sylvain Marveaux. It shows he obviously likes the club. Apart from that I have liked how he has again taken the opportunity to acknowledge the fans who wished him well during his injury and desire to repay them with giving his all in the black and white. Also good to hear he has settled in well and seems happy to have a few French buddies here now too.
There are a few others that deserve a mention too. Ryan Taylor has a new lease of life this season. No longer the forgotten man, now cult hero for the derby day winner, Ryan seems to be motivated again and has commented on the desire within the squad to keep the good run going.
Demba Ba has commented on the good performance against Aston Villa. Acknowledged the team and his desire to improve more, for the team not just himself, which I thought was a good attitude from a lad that hasnt got off to the start he may have wanted and is probably dying for a goal.
Shola Ameobi is another one. Although I don`t rate Shola I was delighted to see his reaction to Best looking like being first choice. Rather than have a sulk, which I half expected to be honest, he gave credit to Leon and has said that he needs to follow suit to get back into the side.
The up and coming youngsters have been great, namely Sammy, Abeid and Vuckic. The latter of the three had a really impressive pre-season and having the operation on his hand and being out for three more weeks as a result must be so frustrating for the lad. He was chomping at the bit and Pardew seems to really like him too, both as a person and player. In terms of positive vibes I like particularly how Vuckic has said how Pardew shows faith in the youth and is more than willing to give them a chance to prove themselves. It is something that really annoyed me about Newcastle in the past and has cost us some really good players over the years.
Sammy is another who is almost too eager to get first team games. In saying that he has a great attitude, someone I wish Nile Ranger would take notice of and wake up, although I don`t think it will happen. Sammy seems to have accepted that for season he will be used as an impact sub and just needs to keep improving his game, and he seems more than happy with that. Again a showing of Pardew’s faith in the promising youth. I would have personally said Sammy was a season away from getting a look in to be honest but he impresses me more every time I see him.
Mehdi Abeid is probably the most impressive of all. His attitude is brilliant. From the second he came in he has impressed everyone at the club and made himself a first team squad player well before what was earmarked for him originally. What I like about him is although he is hungry for first team games, all he wants to do is keep improving and impressing. He has only said again this week that he is delighted to be at Newcastle and is more than willing to be patient in getting his opportunity. I think he will be a real fan favourite in the future, if he keeps it up, and is a shining example of what every young talent should be and think like.
Finally we come to Fabricio Coloccini and Alan Pardew. Obviously these are the two you would expect to be saying positive things. As far as Coloccini goes I think he is proving more each day that he was the right choice for captain. His professionalism and dedication to the role has been admirable and within a month of the season starting is already dispelling the worries people had about replacing our former Captain Tugboat. He is always positive in interviews but carries with it a very good dose of reality and honesty about the hard work ahead for us this season.
Pardew, credit where it is due, is the same. A certain amount of what he says is a charm offensive and simply good man management, but as with Coloccini and I would say Tiote too, he is trying to keep feet firmly on the ground while boosting confidence. When we have been lucky he has admitted as much. When we deserve credit he gives it. He admitted his own faults tactically for the QPR game and put it right, when he did the credit was given to the team not himself.
I think everyone is coming around to roughly the same opinion on Pardew, maybe I`m wrong. I personally think he is a good man manager and tactician who is doing a solid job to date. Despite being in a difficult position between keeping fans onside and as some see him the board puppet, I think he is genuine in his sentiments and a smart lad to have in charge. He seems to have strengths in a number of areas needed for a good manager, including the PR and media side of things and deserves full support from the fans, as I genuinely think he cares and wants to do well.
All the above taken into consideration my conclusion is that although there is an element of charm involved, I think it is no more than at any other club. As I said at the top of the article, I think there is too much being said by too many for it not to be genuine and personally I’m delighted to see the spirit is as strong as ever.
What pleases me most is that we are developing a squad of players with the right attitude as well as ability, which can only be a good thing.