STEVEN Taylor has praised the Duracell bunnies who have powered Newcastle United to third in the Premier League.
Demba Ba’s second hat-trick of his debut season propelled the Magpies to victory at Stoke City on Monday – only the second league defeat the Potters had suffered at the Britannia Stadium in 2011.
Sky TV pundit Gary Neville surprisingly decided Ba should share the man-of-the-match honours with Jonás Gutiérrez, a choice team-mate Taylor applauded.
Former England defender Neville was impressed by the Argentinian winger’s work-rate, and centre-back Taylor was at pains to stress it is an ethic which runs throughout the team, but is epitomised by wide men Gutiérrez and Gabriel Obertan.
“The stats show we are all definitely working harder than we have in previous years. Definitely,” said Taylor, who played the game wearing a mask to protect his broken nose.
“With and without the ball we get through a lot of work. We try to get the ball back as quickly as possible.
“I would imagine Jonás, for example, would have got through about 15 or 16km at Stoke. He was unbelievable. He was non-stop, but even in training he has a phenomenal work ethic. Even Obertan on the other wing works extremely hard.
“The players we have got just never stop running. They just keep going and going and going. I would like to compare them to a Duracell battery because I think a Duracell battery would conk out before those two.
“The wingers were a massive part for us. Jonás and Obertan were on fire for us, but overall everyone works hard, from the forwards all the way back.”
Unbeaten after ten league games, Newcastle are putting to shame some of the richer clubs and more talented squads below them in the table. Taylor stressed, though, that any let-up in effort will be costly.
“As a team we can’t carry anybody,” he stressed. “We are a small squad and we cannot afford to carry anyone. In previous years we might have carried a couple, we can’t do that now. Even the lads who come on from the bench get stuck in. That’s the spirit we have.
“We put tremendous work in (at Stoke). Even the lads up front were getting battered around but they got up and got on with it. They put themselves about.
“Yohan (Cabaye) and the midfield moved it around. Overall it was a terrific team performance, I hope the fans enjoyed it because we had to work hard for that.”
As the statistics prove, the Britannia Stadium is a notoriously difficult place to play as an opposition team, with conditions tailored to Stoke’s infamous long-ball and long-throw tactics.
Winning there will do wonders for the morale of Magpies players who suffered their first reverse of the campaign at Blackburn Rovers in the League Cup five days earlier, and who have a daunting November fixture list.
Taylor, though, is cautioning against confidence converting into complacency. “We are not doing too badly,” he said with considerable understatement. “We just have to make sure it continues. It was hard at Stoke because you don’t just have to deal with the long balls, you also have to deal with a lot of second balls. But I think we controlled it (the game) for long periods.
“Not many teams will come to Stoke and get the result we did. If you look at the stats Arsenal were the team who last knocked three goals past them.
“It’s nice to have come here and got a win. We can’t get carried away. We have got lucky in a couple of games, we will probably be doubted in a few games but we just have to keep going. That’s always happened for as long as I have played for Newcastle.”
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Brian was appointed Editor of The Journal in December 2003, joining from Trinity Mirror's Liverpool base where he was Editorial Development Manager for the company's regional titles. He has also held senior positions at the Daily Record and the Evening Express, Aberdeen, as well as being a former Editor of the Lincolnshire Echo.