STEVEN Taylor is delighted to feel wanted by manager Alan Pardew even though he has still not agreed a new contract to remain at Newcastle United.
Taylor has generally made an impressive return to the side, despite a shaky performance in the defeat to West Bromwich Albion, and may well hold on to his place against Manchester City on Boxing Day despite the availability of Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson after suspension.
The 24-year-old has been impressed by Pardew’s impact as he calms the storm that followed Chris Hughton’s controversial sacking a fortnight ago. But the uncertainty surrounding Taylor’s future remain, as he has still not agreed to extend a deal which will expire at the end of the season.
Hughton also wanted the centre-back to remain on Tyneside, but there is little any manager can do in these situations other than hope the player can reach an agreement with the club to stay. “I have been very impressed with the new manager,” said Taylor, who has only played five first-team games in 2010 because of injuries.
“Since he came in, he has been absolutely spot-on. Within a day or two of him coming in, he sat me down in his office and made it clear he wants me to be here. He just wants to get the ball rolling.
“For me, he has been first class. It was just what I needed. He is a man’s man and I have a lot of respect for him and I know that all the players feel the same way about him.
“It was music to my ears when he told me he wanted me to stay. That’s the best possible thing that could have happened to me, for a new manager to come in and tell me how much he wants me to stay.
“I don’t want to be unwanted. For him to say he wanted me here, and will do everything he can for me, was brilliant. Everyone knows how much I want to stay here.”
Pardew’s first challenge as Newcastle boss was to try and convince a sceptical dressing room they have to move on from the Hughton era and he seems to have managed that so far. A win in his first game against Liverpool has undoubtedly helped, although Taylor could not have been more enthusiastic.
He added: “There was a lot going on when he first arrived and no one really knew how to take him.
“But from the first time he met us, the way he has come across to the players, he has been absolutely unbelievable.
“The training sessions have been fantastic and it’s fair to say the players have taken an instant shine to him.”
Taylor’s contract wrangles have been a dark cloud over him all year, but it is injuries which have really upset the Academy graduate (pictured left). Having suffered a serious knee injury last season, Taylor dislocated his shoulder for the second time in his career in a pre-season friendly against Carlisle back in July. It was a bitter blow, but he is hopeful a bad year will end on a positive note.
“Its been a difficult year for me with injuries, but it looks as if it could be finishing on a high,” said Taylor, who was speaking at the launch of The Longsands version of the Blaydon Races in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
“Pre-season, I was where I wanted to be looking forward to the campaign ahead only for me to get that freak shoulder injury in our first pre-season game at Carlisle.
“It was a massive blow to me after being injured last season.
“All I wanted to do was start playing again so to have another three and a half months on the sidelines was a nightmare.
“I just had to get on with it and come back as quickly as I could.
“I have played a few games now and I am not looking back, just forward.
“After everything that has gone on this year, it looks like 2010 could end on a happy note. I just want to be playing football for Newcastle.”