Last night Mark Pougatch on 5Live Sport dedicated an hour of the show to focus on Newcastle United’s unbeaten start to the season. The show featured Newcastle’s Steven Taylor, Mick Lowes and BBC Football correspondent Ian Dennis.
The programme made for interesting listening covering all aspects from our transfer dealing in the summer to references about Kevin Keegan’s Entertainers. I want to focus mainly on what Steven Taylor had to say throughout the programme to help us all understand what has led to this fantastic start to the season.
The heartbeat of our defence was asked what was it like to be part of a team that had started so well. He replied: “Very enjoyable, it has surprised us as a lot of people who thought that we would be in a relegation battle.”
The conversation moved on to the topic of Chris Hughton and said: “The players loved him, it was disappointing in the way that he was sacked but you have to move on. We are a lot more settled now.”
I think the fact that Taylor has said that they are a lot more settled obviously relates to the way that Pardew has taken control of the club. Taylor then moved on to give an insight into the way that Pardew prepares his team for matches.
“We play on Friday before a game and then he brings us into a meeting and writes the team on the whiteboard. He doesn’t just give us the information, he is constantly asking the players for information about how we can play against a team. He is constantly drilling into the back four and the goalie to make sure that we are strong. He is a perfectionist and a stats man.”
The subject then moved on to address the selling of big characters in the dressing room such as Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan. Steven had this to say:
“With the likes of your Joey Barton’s and Kevin Nolan’s gone players had to come out of the shell and step up in the dressing room. The French boys have mingled in straightaway, we have fantastic players in a new era. The paintballing trip was one that was rather funny, Chiek Tiote was screaming like a girl when he got hit but in normal training session he trains how he plays.”
The issue of the French players was further raised and Taylor added this:
“Cabaye showed on Monday night against Stoke that he can handle the Premier League and is not afraid to put a shift in for the club. Hatem Ben Arfa is a quality player who is getting his fitness back and looking very sharp.”
“We are a small squad, with lots of quality in there and you can’t buy team spirit which is really working for us. We want to keep enjoying football, Man City have been on a fantastic run but we are all really looking forward to it.”
“The bonus scheme that the manager has pushed for the players and the staff shows that Pardew is running this club. The owner is letting him get on with the job and being the manager. Whereas before when the owner came to the ground there was also that bit of a divide between a few of them. He’s now letting the gaffer do his job.”
Taylor was asked what it was personally like for him and about the press being generated at the moment; “I’m living the dream, it’s the best feeling ever. We are a footballing city, it is up too us to keep the smiles going. So they should be taking notice for us, this is a big football club.”
It was great to hear from Steven Taylor on this show and it gave an insight into what makes the formula that is our unbeaten run. It’s programmes like this that are able to gain more positive press about the club and hopefully it will continue.
There were some other points that I felt were really key that I want to add to this article and this involves a certain scout who goes by the name of Carr: Graham Carr!
Ian Dennis stated: “He is one of the key ingredients in the club, he is always looking for replacements in case anybody is sold. He is prepared for what may happen always planning for the future and this continuity will make the club self-sustainable.”
The one bit that I want to leave you with is back to the heyday of the Entertainers in the 1994-95 season. Now I don’t remember this season as I would have been a small baby but I know the history of it. This was the season when we finished 2nd in the league and here are some surprising facts about that season, in the first 11 games of that season we conceded 8 goals and this season? You know the answer to that.
I’ll end with that nice little fact to cheer us up a bit!