History beckons Pardew's unlikely lads
Newcastle United 2 Everton 1
St James' Park
Monday 07 November 2011
So where do Alan Pardew and his high-flying, club-record-equalling Magpies go from here? That would be to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday week to face those other invincibles of the Premier League season to date, Roberto Mancini's Manchester City – followed by a trip to Old Trafford, then a date at home to Chelsea.
If the new-look Newcastle remain unbeaten by the evening of 3 December, they will have earned the right to be considered a new force among the established, moneyed elite of English football. They will also be flying solo as the Magpies who have gone the longest in a top-flight season without having their wings clipped.
The Newcastle class of 1994-95, Kevin Keegan's emerging Entertainers, also went to Manchester on an unbeaten 11-match streak. They lost 2-0 at Old Trafford (goals by Gary Pallister and Keith Gillespie). The Geordie boys of 1950-51, "Wor" Jackie Milburn and Co, also fell at the 12th hurdle, losing 3-0 at Villa Park.
For the time being, though, Pardew's unlikely lads are third in the Premier League and one of only six teams yet to lose in a major European league this season, together with City, Barcelona, Juventus, Benfica and Porto.
"It's a great achievement by everybody at the football club, regardless of what role they have here," the New-castle manager said. "It's brilliant to be able to say we're unbeaten at this time."
And what if his rebuilt side manage to remain unbeaten? What might they be able to achieve this season? "I don't want to dampen expectation or dampen the mood," Pardew said. "I want Newcastle fans to enjoy it and have a good time. And if they want to dream of the Champions League, let them dream. Good luck to them.
"In the dressing room we have to be a little more conservative in our approach. We're a new team. We've done terrifically well. We go to the next game. That's us."
It is also very much like the new Newcastle to grind out a victory against the odds. They did so on Saturday – despite losing Yohan Cabaye, Sylvain Marveaux and Leon Best to injury – ultimately because of another resolute defensive effort and a 29th-minute wonder goal by Ryan Taylor, a makeshift left-back who has become indispensable.
"He's been a real unsung hero for you," someone suggested to Pardew here. "You can't be an unsung hero for 11 games," the manager replied.
Scorers: Newcastle United Heitinga (og) 12, R Taylor 29. Everton Rodwell 45.
Substitutes: Newcastle Gosling 6 (Cabaye, 38), Sammy Ameobi 6 (Marveaux, 54), Ben Arfa 6 (Best, 73). Everton Distin 6 (Neville, 41), Cahill 6 (Heitinga, 56), McFadden (Hibbert, 81). Booked: Newcastle Guthrie, R Taylor. Everton Heitinga, Baines, Drenthe. Man of the match R Taylor. Match rating 6/10. Possession Newcastle 47% Everton 53%. Attempts on target Newcastle 6 Everton 6. Referee A Marriner (W Midlands). Attendance 50,671.
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