Alan Pardew believes he is reaping the rewards of reviving Newcastle United’s work ethic.
The Magpies are seventh in the Premier League, a win away from the Champions League places, after winning five of their last six matches. Three of those victories have come against Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.
It is a marked turnaround in fortunes from last year, when Newcastle came worryingly close to relegation.
Pardew puts that down to reviving the values of the club.
“I’ve tried to put in place a work ethic, a discipline and an attacking make-up of the team,” he said in an interview to mark his third anniversary as manager yesterday. “Sometimes we get undone but we are trying to build and build each year.
“I know what this club means to this city, particularly when you win, to go into work and have that pride in your team. It gives a real boost to your spirit.
“It’s an area of the country that is a hard-working region. The people here are so honest and hard working, and the team needs to reflect that.
“If it doesn’t the fans get upset, and there were periods last season where we didn’t do that. They were right to be upset.
“It was my job to make sure we put that right this year and we have worked really, really hard. We are getting our rewards for it but there is still a big part of the season to go.”
Pardew is the second-longest-serving manager in the Premier League, and believes the secret of his (relative) longevity has been detaching himself from the emotions surrounding the club.
“It’s a religious kind of support, which makes it very emotional, and I’ve had to learn how to cope with that.
“As a manager I’ve had to embrace different cultures, different mentalities on how to play the game, and every player gives you a different set of problems. I’ve gained great experience from some great players here, and continue to do so.
“I can detatch myself from the emotion of the game, which comes with age as well. When you are younger you get wrapped up in it a little bit.
“Although I might be jumping up and down on the sideline, I am very focused on what is going on, how the game is going and what decisions I need to make.
“But the most important thing is that you have to have your finger on the pulse. The Premier League is changing every year and you’ve got to be right at the cutting edge of it.
“I like to think we are and we have really improved with some fantastic stuff on the training ground, the fitness of the guys and the condition they are in. I’m really pleased with that.
“As a manager you want to take a few steps forward every year – it makes you a better manager and makes for a better team.
“Hopefully our fans can see where we are trying to take the team. I’ve loved every minute of the last three years, and long may it continue.”
Yohan Cabaye, Newcastle’s goalscorer at Old Trafford on Saturday, says he has had no talks about a January move to long-term suitors Paris Saint-Germain – managed by Laurent Blanc, who handed the Frenchman his international debut.
“To my knowledge there has been no exchange with PSG” said Cabaye in an interview in his homeland. “Who does not want to join Paris Saint-Germain today?”
The midfielder has been persistently linked with a move away from Newcastle, and refused to play in the early part of the season in an unsuccessful attempt to force a transfer to Arsenal.
Meanwhile, St Mirren are reportedly close to agreeing a deal to take striker Adam Campbell on loan in the New Year.
Paul Dummet and Conor Newton enjoyed successful loan spells with the Buddies last season, and the improvement in the former since he returned has been noticeable. Newton did well enough for the Paisley club to take him back this season.
Newcastle had been hoping England Under-19 striker Campbell could take advantage of some further experience.
The 18-year-old was loaned to League One Carlisle United in August, but returned after one 45-minute substitute appearance.
St Mirren had hoped to sign him at the time, and now look as though they will succeed.
“We’re hoping to have that one tied up for January 1 and get Adam up there for the match with Kilmarnock the day after,” said Spencer Downey, an agent working on the move.
“Newcastle value what St Mirren have done for Paul and Conor and believe sending Adam up there would be good for him.”
Newton’s loan runs out at the end of the year, but St Mirren hope to extend it.