Players, Pards and yes, even Ashley, must get credit for flying start

Six games into a season is no time to start crowing about what a great season it will be at Newcastle United.

A draw with out-of-sorts Arsenal, beating Fulham and Blackburn at home, Sunderland away and drawing on journeys to QPR and Aston Villa doesn't represent the toughest of early fixture lists.

But Alan Pardew's squad, unbeaten in eight games, including Carling Cup wins over Scunthorpe and Nottingham Forest, can be rightly satisfied with the way they have come through the first phase of matches.

Pardew spoke last week of ridding Newcastle United of the "pessimism that hovered over this club a few weeks ago."

Well, they've certainly done that. The atmosphere at St James's Park on Saturday one of hope and optimism as they consolidated fourth spot, with Wolves next up.

Fans can now chuckle that freebie Demba Ba as many goals in 27 minutes on Saturday than £35million Andy Carroll has got for Liverpool in the last eight months.

They smirk seeing Liverpool below them in the table having banked £43million from the Scousers in transfer fees this year.

They knowing, of course, that it may not last. But you revel in a bit of happiness when it arrives.

So what has been the secret? Is this a fluke, or is there some method behind the usual Newcastle madness? Is it down to cute signings, sound management, lively organised coaching, defiance at having good players sold, or a long term plan coming to fruition?

Or is it most probably a combination of all those factors?

Despite the rancour-inducing failure to sign a No9, there has actually been some decent investment this summer in Pardew's squad.

Ambitious spending on the right players, to improve the quality and depth of squad, will always be necessary to kick the club to higher levels. More is needed.

But Newcastle are also showing that clever recruitment, rather than eye-popping transfer fees is the key.

Of the new signings Yohan Cabaye is a quality playmaker, now attracting man-marking from opponents, which may stifle him slightly, but opens up spaces elsewhere.

Demba Ba is up to speed again, and showing he is a goal-getter like he did with a creditable goals per game record at Hoffenheim and West Ham. Gabriel Obertan will keep improving with the regular games he never got at Manchester United, and adds pace.

Other signings have shown promise in the Carling Cup, including Sylvain Marveaux. He will start to push United's chief ball carrier, and pressure reliever, Jonas Gutierrez by the end of the season.

Watch out for Mehdi Abeid, the French/Algerian midfielder who is only 18 but will emerge in the next two years as a force in central midfield - and to think he was only supposed to be in the development squad this season.

There has also been an immense contribution from seasoned campaigners. Fabricio Coloccini's leadership has brought a new dimension. He put down some strong markers behind the scenes in pre-season, and his low key no-nonsense solidity sets a professional tone.

Steven Taylor is also playing a big part, fulfilling his teenage promise, with some eye-catching displays in defence that some day soon might see England come calling again.

You also can't under-estimate the work-rate of Gutierrez. He never stops running, gives United an essential outlet when he dribbles the ball and takes the heat out of opposition attacking pressure.

Cheik Tiote is looking fitter each match, as will Hatem Ben Arfa as he is eased back gently.

Perhaps also we can see, several years after it was first talked about, Newcastle being able to dip into their "development" players when the first team get injured.

That, rather than opening the chequebook, is the plan, and you could argue that in youngsters Abeid, Marveaux, Shane Ferguson, Sammy Ameobi and Haris Vuckic they have a core of kids ready to blood with the odd appearance, to keep them progressing.

Pardew's role has also been impressive. He is proving a good coach and organiser, an excellent communicator with the fans, and was strong enough to make his disappointment in not getting a No9 on transfer deadline day, publicly known.

It helps that he's got a local backup team in sparky Geordies John Carver and Steve Stone, alongside Andy Woodman.

There is also an attitude of determination from the players.

Leon Best speaks of the squad feeling they were "backed into a corner" by the big name summer sales, and have come out to prove themselves good enough.

And he also reveals there is camaraderie at the training ground with a series of games championships keeping spirits up.

Taylor claims that the place has become more united after the owner settled a year-long dispute with players over bonuses.

Whatever the reasons for Newcastle's good start, it is certainly unexpected, and a welcome relief.

It's a strange feeling writing vaguely positive columns here every week.

Pardew jokes last week: "It's been too quiet, I know that's no good for you journalists, you'd rather have bombs going off!"

Wrong, Alan. We'll settle for a season in similar vein to the last few weeks. With winning football to report on.


Follow Simon Bird on Twitter @simonbirdmirror

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