Versatile Magpies impress Pardew
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew hopes the versatility of his players will help see them through a potentially thrilling conclusion to the season.
Pardew has been forced to make do in recent weeks with winger Jonas Gutierrez lining up at left-back in the 1-0 Barclays Premier League win over Norwich last weekend, a game in which Yohan Cabaye played in four different positions and full-back James Perch started in midfield.
Many of the changes have been forced on Pardew, but some have been tactical, and he is delighted to have that flexibility within what is a relatively small squad. He said: "You have to remember that when you have had success, teams are going to come and nullify you and start working on ways to beat you, and you have got to keep asking different questions."
He continued: "Yohan Cabaye and Jonas had different roles last week, and they could have different roles again. But their application and attitude to them has been first-class, and that's why Jonas at left-back got man of the match against Norwich, because he attacked the job that was at hand.
"If my players do that and take that as a lesson, then we are going to be okay."
The Magpies were more than okay at the Hawthorns as they produced their best 45 minutes of football for some time to blow the Baggies away. Hatem Ben Arfa's brilliance, the finishing prowess of Papiss Cisse and the way in which the pair combined with the Senegal international's strike-partner Demba Ba was simply too much for West Brom,.
Newcastle will head into the Liverpool game eight points better off than the visitors, their closest pursuers, and with eight games to play, knowing they are in the driving seat.
The fact that the influential Fabricio Coloccini could miss up to half of those games with a hamstring injury is a major concern, although midfielder Cheick Tiote's impending return from a hamstring injury will provide a boost.
Tiote missed the victories over Norwich and West Brom, but saw Danny Guthrie deputise well once again, and while Pardew will be delighted to have the Ivory Coast international back, he is equally pleased that his side has shown it can cope without one of its key players.
He said: "We have won without Cheick for the last two weekends, and we won without him when he was away at the African Nations Cup. Actually, since he has come back, we haven't had great results with Cheick. I am not saying that as a negative because he is a massive player for us, but we can cope without him."