Alan Pardew will unleash his own version of Michael Essien on his former club West Ham tonight, confident there is much more to come. The Newcastle manager has been hugely impressed by the Ivory Coast international Cheik Tioté during his time at St James' Park to date, and believes the midfielder has what it will take to do for the Magpies what Ghana counterpart Essien does for Chelsea.
"He reminds me of Essien, if I am honest, he is that type," Pardew said yesterday. "He needs to learn that in and around our third, he needs to be a lot safer – he can be a bit loose there – and he needs to be more progressive in his play.
"There is so much more to come from him if we can get him out of just popping it off safely. When he attacks teams and runs at them, he could be as effective for us as Essien is for Chelsea."
Tioté, a £3.5m summer signing from the Dutch club FC Twente, turned in a stunning individual display during Sunday's 1-0 Premier League win at Wigan Athletic.
The 24-year-old's industry in the middle of the park has proved invaluable to Newcastle since his arrival, and while Pardew admits the player still has much to learn – he has already amassed nine yellow cards – the manager is in little doubt as to his potential.
"When I arrived, I could tell he was a very, very good player from what I had seen on TV, and when I reviewed the dvds of previous games, it just reinforced that," Pardew said. "To watch him from the sideline, his energy and his power, he is as strong in possession as you will find. Sometimes, he invites trouble because he is holding two or three players off and he gets himself into physical challenges and he takes too many bookings.
"But because of the power he has, he has such confidence that he can hold people off. It frightens me to death at times, but he is such a brilliant character."
Pardew will hope for more of the same as the resurgent Hammers head for Tyneside desperate to continue their recent climb away from trouble.
A run of four league games without defeat, which has brought eight points, has eased them into 16th place, five points adrift of Newcastle in 10th.
Pardew spent more than three years in charge at Upton Park and guided the club back into the top flight via the play-offs before being relieved of his duties in December 2006. He has not been back since, but is determined to do just that next season with both clubs still in the Premier League.
He said: "I haven't been back to Upton Park since I left. I have purposely kept away because when I return, I wanted to return with a really good team, and I hope to do that next year in the Premier League for both clubs.
"This game is important because it's about this year and about both of us making sure we are Premier League sides. I think West Ham will escape the drop and I certainly hope we will, and a victory for us tomorrow would certainly go a long way towards putting a little bit of distance between us and that pressure cooker at the bottom."
The Magpies will once again be without their injured striker Andy Carroll tonight, although Shola Ameobi took over the 21-year-old's mantle to secure victory at the DW Stadium at the weekend.
Pardew yesterday went to the drawing board in the search for a No 2 at Newcastle after the Bradford City joint-chairman Mark Lawn confirmed that their manager, Peter Taylor, had decided to stay with the Bantams. Lawn told Sky Sports News: "All I can do is take the word of Peter and I have been told he wants to stay and therefore I think that is what he is going to do, he's a very honest man.
"In all our dealings he has been very straight. We're now talking to him about the future, so it looks to me we're moving forward with Peter Taylor as our manager."