Pardew: Signings are paying off
Alan Pardew is confident Newcastle are starting to reap the rewards of their January investment.
The Magpies spent heavily in the last winter transfer window having opted not to do so during the summer and then saw the rigours of their domestic and European commitments take a heavy toll.
The arrival of Mathieu Debuchy, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Massadio Haidara, Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran helped to stave off the spectre of relegation, if only just, but all have endured highs and lows since.
Sissoko is a case in point with the 24-year-old former Toulouse midfielder making an instant impact, scoring a match-winning double against Chelsea on his home debut on February 2, but then sometimes struggling for form until the last few weeks, when he has shown once again what an asset he can be.
Pardew, who will hope for more of what he got from the Frenchman in the 2-0 Barclays Premier League win over Chelsea at Tottenham on Sunday, said: "Like all players, especially coming from foreign leagues, they take time.
"They have some bursts, but then a lull and then come back again, and that's what Moussa has done.
"Some take much longer to settle, but fortunately at the moment, our guys are playing well.
"They have all got a grip on the Premier League, particularly the guys we brought in in the January window last year, and we are seeing the benefits of what we thought when we signed them, when [chief scout] Graham [Carr] and myself and everybody was looking at them."
Sissoko has been used in a series of different roles by Pardew, who has played him as a number 10, an orthodox attacking midfielder and most recently, wide on the right, where he kept Hatem Ben Arfa out of the team last weekend.
At 6ft 2in, he is an imposing figure, but one who has had to get used to the physical demands of English football, and his hard work in training is starting to pay dividends.
Pardew said: "Because he carries such a big frame, you can see sometimes in games, he looks weary."
He added: "It's that repetitive sprinting that he's getting better at. We have worked hard on him this year and he is playing very well."
The victory against Chelsea went some of the way towards lifting the gloom which descended over Tyneside in the wake of a derby defeat at Sunderland and the end of the club's Capital One Cup dreams at the hands of Manchester City, and it could hardly have been more timely with another intensely difficult fixture to come on Sunday.
Newcastle have fared poorly at White Hart Lane in recent seasons - they have lost on each of their last four visits and have scored only one goal there since a 4-1 league win in March 2008 - and will have to perform significantly better this time around if they are to arrest that run of form.
That may prove easier said than done with Spurs boss Andre Villa-Boas busily rebuilding his reputation in England after a difficult spell at Chelsea.
Pardew for one is wary of his adversary this weekend as he looks to add his scalp to that of compatriot Jose Mourinho.
He said: "I don't think anybody doubted his ability. I think Chelsea is a difficult club to manage and maybe it was just too soon for him for that type of club.
"He's such a young man and he has done so much already. He has got a really good Spurs team here and is quite rightly getting the plaudits that he deserves."