Premier League: Alan Pardew backs Cheick Tiote to return to form for Newcastle
Alan Pardew is backing Cheick Tiote to return to his combative best as he attempts to re-establish Newcastle as a force.
Last Updated: 27/09/13 3:01pm
The midfielder struggled last season to reproduce the form that had helped Newcastle make a surprise return to Europe the previous year, and had seen him linked with Arsenal and Manchester United in the process.
A calf injury has limited Tiote's involvement so far this term, but having started the 2-0 Capital One Cup third-round victory over Leeds in midweek, Pardew feels he is ready to begin his campaign in earnest.
"He was back to near his best," Pardew said of Tiote's display against Leeds. "He was a lot more comfortable in possession than last year. He looks more like himself and I am hoping for a big season from Cheick.
"I didn't think last year went well for Cheick in terms of the player he is, and that coincided with the team.
"When he's at his best, I think we are at our best and defensively on Saturday (against Hull City) he could have made a difference.
"He gave us a little lift at Villa when he came on, so the signs are good. He has been unlucky to be out of the team because of injury and he has a chance now to reaffirm the quality he has."
Tiote is likely to have to settle for a place on the bench in Monday night's league trip to Everton, with Vernon Anita slotted into a midfield trio
along with Yohan Cabaye and Moussa Sissoko.
Pardew said of Anita: "He's an economical user of the ball. He does a lot of work, a bit like Tiote, which doesn't always go detected.
"But he has his nose in front of Cheick at the minute, and Cheick will be desperate to address that.
"That's what you want, that's the competition. Vurnon is under pressure to play well because he has Cheick Tiote, one of the best in the last few years inthe Premier League, breathing down his neck."