IN-FORM goalkeeper Tim Krul will be worth 10 points to Newcastle United this season, buoyant boss Alan Pardew believes.
The Holland shot-stopper emerged on top from the three-way fight to become United’s number one this summer and has exceeded external expectations with a string of superb performances.
Four clean sheets only hint at his influence so far, which has confirmed the advances made by a player who, at just 23, is still very young for a goalkeeper.
Even in Wednesday’s Carling Cup reverse at Ewood Park, a game in which he conceded four, Krul was arguably United’s best player as he weighed in with a number of crucial saves.
Pardew has hailed his contribution on the pitch and off it, claiming he has been careful not to lapse into complacency after winning the battle to become United’s first-choice keeper.
“More or less from the day I arrived, Tim has been growing as a person and as a player,” he said. “Because he is a laid-back character, he has to be careful not to slip into complacency and I know he’s very conscious of that. He hasn’t.
“And if he can stay where he is at the moment, he is going to gain us at least 10 points this season.”
If goalkeeper is one area not giving Pardew problems, there are others where the United boss has decisions to make, with Davide Santon and Danny Guthrie both in contention for the Britannia Stadium clash with Stoke tonight after bright midweek displays.
And Pardew will carry out a head count this morning with several key squad members rated as doubtful.
Steven Taylor should be passed fit to play with a mask protecting his recently remedied broken nose, but Cheick Tioté is a serious worry with a knee injury – even though the player himself believes he will play.
Leon Best is recovering from tonsillitis and is still “touch and go”.
Whichever team is sent out, Pardew does not believe they have surrendered momentum despite the midweek Carling Cup exit at the hands of Blackburn.
“It is important because the more experience you get as a manager, you understand the trust you get from the terraces to the team is the key element to success in my view,” he said.
“If they don’t trust the manager, the team, the players, if they think we’re all pulling the wool over their eyes or we’re not committed to the task, they won’t forgive us and when you get a defeat it will escalate that feeling.
“There is trust from the terraces about what we’re doing, we’re trying to win every possible game and therefore they’ll trust you if they see that effort and commitment. After that first half at Blackburn we could have been slightly questioned on that front because we didn’t play our usual front-foot style, but from the moment the second half started I thought we were outstanding.”
Pardew saw first hand the enthusiasm the team’s start has generated at Friday’s open training session, which drew crowds of 5,000 supporters to St James’ Park. In addition to the excellent take-up of reduced price season tickets – some 1,000 have been snapped up so far – there is a “momentum” about the club. “The season ticket offer all goes hand in hand with that (unity),” Pardew said. “That momentum carries you through.”