STEVEN Taylor has hailed the contribution of "perfectionist" Alan Pardew to Newcastle United's new rock-solid defensive partnership.
After racking up another impressive clean sheet in the derby-day defeat of Sunderland, United are now the only club in the English professional game who are yet to concede a goal this season.
Partly down to Taylor’s burgeoning partnership with imperious Fabricio Coloccini, the defender reckons United boss Pardew must take a hefty portion of the credit after working tirelessly on the training field to improve United’s defensive record.
Taylor, too, is benefiting from a new lease of life following a frustrating two seasons.
Handed a new contract by Pardew within weeks of the United boss taking over at St James’ Park, the homegrown defender is now justifying his faith with the sort of displays which have been a long time coming.
The steadying hand of Coloccini alongside him is helping, with Taylor talking of an “understanding” with his Argentina counterpart.
He said: “It has been great playing with Colo. My Spanish is coming along well! He has been trying to teach me the lingo.
“He iss a great guy to play with, we played together a bit last season and I think we had a pretty good understanding.
“We have been working hard on the training ground and that is paying off.
“I have a great understanding with Colo. He is a fantastic guy to play with and I think we complement each other well.
“With the two of us and people like Cheick, Joey and Yohan, that is a really strong core.
“Then Tim behind that has done really well in both games. He is just a young lad, but seems to have really grown in stature.”
“The secret is the gaffer keeps pushing us.
“He is basically at us all the time, about little things. Nothing is ever perfect, but we are both striving to improve.”
As a Newcastle supporter the derby victory was particularly sweet for Taylor – but he is refusing to get too carried away by a start to the season better than most anticipated.
A trip to Scunthorpe for the Carling Cup on Thursday offers an opportunity to progress in a competition which has been identified as key by United chief Pardew, and Taylor wants to see the club regain focus before that game.
He added: “People will talk about this being a springboard but we cannot look as far ahead as that.
“Scunthorpe on Thursday, that is the next game. In the past we have caused ourselves problems by getting too far ahead of us at this club.
“Yes, we will enjoy this result because it is a massive win for the club and the whole city, but it is still very early in the season.
Having secured the one victory which United fans cherish above all else, new-look Newcastle have given themselves breathing space to develop as a team.
The pressure is off Pardew, the players will be granted more time to gel and Taylor believes the team have sent a “statement” to some of the doubters who emerged following a summer of discontent.
He said: “Hopefully the first two games have sent out a bit of a statement, but we are not going to get ahead of ourselves.
“This was a massive game for us and it is great to have the right result.
“However, there are plenty of other big games to come and it is not going to be the be-all and end-all of the season.”