Club Focus – Newcastle – Geordies in great team spirit

Newcastle defender Steven Taylor believes that Newcastle’s battling qualities have stemmed from a happy and content dressing room. Those qualities were evident in Monday night’s victory over Preston, as they were able to grind out a narrow victory, despite being unable to hit the heights they have reached at times this season. Over the last few seasons there has been a lack of spirit and cohesion about Newcastle, as players have been happy to come in on big wages but shown little appetite for the fight. The players who remain, appear to be a closer unit who want to play for the shirt.

Taylor, who has recently returned from injury, said: “It’s just a totally different mood about the place and I’m loving it. We’re going into training now and having a right good laugh. We know when we have to be serious, but we also know that it’s good to have a laugh and a joke as a group of lads. The banter is absolutely fantastic on the training ground, and it hasn’t always been like that in the time I’ve been at Newcastle. We’re all mingling in together as a group, and we know how to take each other, whereas a few years ago you might have got some people forming their own little groups. There’s none of that now, everyone’s together and everyone gets involved.” Local lad Taylor is now a key part of the Newcastle dressing room, often playing the role of the practical joker. With a good blend of youth and experience, it would appear Newcastle have found the right formula for success on and off the pitch.

Thursday’s deadline for loan signings has now passed, but there was little transfer activity on Tyneside. Manager Chris Hughton seems pretty happy with the current squad and with Fabrice Pancrate joining at last weekend, a potential shortage of wide players has been averted. Danny Simpson, Zurab Khizanishvilli and Marlon Harewood are the players who are currently on loan to the Magpies to differing degrees of success. Simpson has been a hit since joining at the start of the season and looks like he would be a good addition to the team in January. Khizanishvilli and Harewood have struggled to make a similar type of impact and have done little to earn themselves a move to Newcastle. Georgian defender Khizanishvilli’s cause has not been helped by having a three match ban for violent conduct. One player who Newcastle appear very keen on is Sheffield United defender Matthew Kilgallon. Hughton is believed to have enquired about taking the former Leeds United player on loan before the January transfer window. Kilgallon is yet to sign a new deal with the Blades, and his contract is due to expire at the end of the season. Hughton said on the player: “Matt Kilgallon’s one of a few players that we’ve had an interest in, but I don’t anticipate anything being done today.The bigger time for us is the window, and we’ve got to make sure we do the right business then.”

Thursday also saw Newcastle submit their bid to become one of the host cities for the 2018 World Cup, should England win the rights to host the global tournament. Newcastle’s bid is in partnership with Gateshead, and they have joined 15 of England’s other cities in bidding to be selected. With a 52,000 capacity stadium and a football mad city, there are plenty of reasons why Newcastle and Gateshead have good chance of being selected. One of their biggest competitors for becoming one of the host cities are local rivals Sunderland, who have also put their name into the frame. Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper believes both North East cities should be on the shortlist to host World Cup football. He said: “It would be a tragedy if Newcastle didn’t get it. The country as a whole has got to win the right to host the tournament first and it would be fantastic if we can win the bid. It will be 52 years since the World Cup was here and we won it and it’s overdue. It would be brilliant if football did come home again. This is the real hotbed of football and we have two fantastic stadiums. If you look at St James’ Park this is an amazing place to play football so hopefully the FA can put a successful bid together and we can get a few games up here.”

Newcastle host in-form Swansea City on Saturday, as they look to extend their lead at the top of the Championship. The hosts have a number of injuries with defenders Ryan Taylor, Danny Simpson and striker Andy Carroll all unlikely to play.

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