RYAN Taylor has admitted he loves being part of a Newcastle United team that are feared by the rest of the Premier League.
And the versatile 27-year-old hopes this new -found respect will be formalised by the Magpies going on to clinch a Champions League place.
Taylor is thoroughly enjoying this rather unexpected rise in expectations for a squad which at the start of the season would have been considered, even by some of their own supporters, to be a midtable side.
Under Alan Pardew’s shrewd leadership, the team have only five games remaining for them to finish as one of the leading four in English football, as they fight it out for fourth spot along with Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea.
While actual silverware may be beyond Newcastle this time around, Taylor is delighted that his side have made their mark over what has transpired to be an incredible campaign.
He said: “I hope we are being taken seriously, because if you look at the squad we have, it’s a squad that is no pushover any more.
“We have got internationals all over the pitch and if anyone thinks they are going to play against Newcastle and expect an easy game, then think again.
“It’s nice to know that teams are starting to fear us, especially at home, because we have picked up a lot of points.
“We have only lost two at home this season, so it’s going well and it would top it all off if we could get into Europe. That would be some achievement in one season.”
Newcastle are back in action next weekend when Stoke come to St James’ Park. The Potters won on Tyneside last season, a feat only Chelsea and West Brom have managed this term.
Pardew’s men will be looking to record their sixth straight victory a week today, a run helped by the fact that every member of the first-team, when called upon, has played his part.
Taylor (pictured below) singled out captain Fabricio Coloccini who was outstanding in Easter Monday’s game against Bolton, holding together a defence that had been put under pressure before Hatem Ben Arfa’s memorable goal.
The Argentinian had just returned to action after struggling with a hamstring problem, much to the relief of his team-mates.
Taylor said: “Colo has been top drawer this season. That’s what you need from your captain. He has led by example all season.”
Midfielder Danny Guthrie, who has missed the last two games through injury, is fit again and will train today with the squad who had been given a few days off by their manager.
Guthrie believes that a big part of this season’s success is that there is competition for places right across the team; something that a Newcastle manager has not been able to boast about for quite some time.
He said: “The competition for places in the middle of the park is tough but it’s exactly what we need, especially at this stage of the season
“I have thoroughly enjoyed last few games and myself and team really pleased to have put ourselves in joint fourth at the moment. Winning at Swansea was great as they’re pretty formidable at home and then beating Bolton was important too in terms of building on the away win.
“They made it very difficult for us and desperately needed the points themselves but our patience paid off.
“The lads have had a few days off this week but we’re all back together now and fully focused on the last five games of the season.”