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Anita thinks Sunderland defeat got Newcastle going
Five wins in the seven Premier League games that have followed, nursing just one defeat, and Newcastle sit poised to make a concerted push for a top six place this season.
Magpies fans might not have felt like it at the time, but Dutch midfielder Vurnon Anita thinks the defeat at the Stadium of Light could actually have been the kick to the stomach Alan Pardew's players required.
“Not much has changed since we lost at Sunderland in terms of performance, but I would say we certainly believe more now I would say,” said Anita.
“We are working very hard and you can see on the pitch you get good results if you all work together. That's what we are doing.
“When you look back, I think it could actually have been a good result at Sunderland to wake us up again. Maybe. We have kept winning since then.”
Building up to the trip to Wearside back on October 27, Newcastle struggled to find consistency in the Premier League.
But the experiences of defeats like Sunderland and at Everton a month earlier made many of the Newcastle players finally realise what Pardew had been trying to drum in to them over the summer.
The Newcastle boss has been demanding greater character from his players and last weekend's 1-1 draw with Southampton was an indication that his words are paying off. Last season Newcastle may have crumbled after the Saints had equalised through Jay Rodriguez. Not that time.
Anita said: “We kept on going last week and we know what we are capable of. Even when Southampton equalised we kept going and we might have let our heads go down before.
“We know this season that higher placings are within reach. We need to keep both feet on the ground because there is a long way to go. If you believe, you can achieve.
“We are not thinking about Europe yet. We are taking every game one by one. We can’t look too far ahead. If you keep things small then you can achieve big things.”
Newcastle's £6m signing from Ajax in the summer of last year has not been able to command a first team starting spot on a regular basis since his arrival.
This season he has started to show he deserves to be heavily involved and he was the pick of the Newcastle midfielders against Southampton.
Anita is in no mood to give up his place, despite the return from suspension of Yohan Cabaye at Crystal Palace today, and believes Pardew is picking his team on a week's work rather than purely on Premier League performances.
He said: “You are not just judged on the performances in matches, you are also judged on the training ground too. Everybody works hard and if you do that then you deserve to play. That’s what the manager has felt about me.
“It is a good squad here and it will be tough decisions for the coach when Yohan comes back in. That’s what every team needs to reach a higher level. It is all about having good options.”
Despite the significant improvements Newcastle have shown since October, there is also a drive within the dressing room to stress that there is no room for complacency ahead of a game at struggling Palace.
Anita said: “We are a very tough team to play against, we know that. That has shown when we have played.
“I’m very happy that we followed up the win at Manchester United with a good result against Southampton. There is a good spirit in the group now and we keep going to get results.
“We need to make sure we keep our feet on the ground and keep progressing. The confidence is high and we think we can win every game. We have to make sure we keep that up to achieve what we want.”
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