Steve Harper has been a top player for Newcastle this season, and he’s certainly taken the chance offered to him, when Shay Given left Tyneside for Manchester City last January.
Steve Harper – in great form this season
And of course the other motivating factor for Steve is certain Ditch youngster, Tim Krul, who will no doubt become a top goalkeeper of the future, hopefully at Newcastle, a club the youngster seems to love.
Newcastle is now back at the top of the league, with a home game against Peterborough, and surely we win that and stay top over the upcoming two week International break.
That’s unless the demonstrations apparently planned before the game (tell me it’s not so!) upsets the band-wagon.
Steve said today:
“I thought we deserved to win,” “The shift we put in was fantastic. We did what we were doing at the start of the season and that’s matching the opposition for effort and commitment.”
“We didn’t do that against Nottingham Forest and Scunthorpe.” “We gave sloppy goals away, but we’ve got back to doing what we have to do in this division to stay at the top.”
“We have learned our lesson. The first half at Forest was probably as poor as we’ve been. We played pretty well at Scunthorpe but gave away two bad goals.”
“I think the Sheffield United game was an example of people covering for each other and working for each other. Even when you’re not playing well it’s vital we have that togetherness and unity.”
“I don’t think it has ever gone away, there was just a few things had gone wrong.” “It’s well documented that it’s a fantastic dressing room and we have a lot of individuals who have high standards, and demand those standards are met.”
“If they don’t reach them they let people know about it. We got back to those standards on Monday night in terms of the effort and hard work needed away from home.”
It’s very good that the dressing room spirit seems to be as strong as ever, and that’s very important as we’ll have top scrap for a lot of our wins this season, which is exactly what we’ve done in our last two games.
That’s because the opposition will either park a bus in front of their goal, and/or be inspired to play at their very best against Newcastle, the Manchester United of the Championship. 😀
But that’s what good teams have to face week in week out, and it’s hardly right to use it as any kind of excuse.
The 1-0 win on Monday night ended a run of two successive away defeats, at Nottingham Forest and Scunthorpe, but we are still 2 points clear of WBA.
The 34-year-old, who has to be one of England’s top goalkeepers on current form – Fabio Capello please take note – feels those problems are behind them now as Steve looks for revenge against Peterborough, after they eliminated the Tyneside club from the Carling Cuip.
The Easington-born local player continued:
“Everybody has had a wobble and so have we. We were probably the last side in the division to have one, but it’s not been a great few weeks.” “We drew the two home games and lost two in a row away from home. That allowed the chasing pack to catch us up.”
“We need to put another good run together and build a lead again.” “But we know, if we don’t match the standards we have set against Sheffield United we will wobble again – and then we will give hope to the teams behind us.”
“You have to be able to grind out results away from home.” “It’s always going to be difficult for teams coming to St James’ Park in front of 40,000 fanatical fans.”
“We’ve got a great opportunity on Saturday.” “I think that all of the top seven or eight teams are all playing each other.”
“I think we owe Peterborough one. A few of their players were milking it when they beat our young lads in the Carling Cup – so we’ll definitely be up for it.”
And Harper also paid tribute to goalkeeping coach Paul Barron for his help:
“I was busy at the end, but when you go to places like Sheffield United you have to win the battle.”
“When the assistant referee put up five minutes of injury time they threw bodies forward and had a couple of overloads at the far post.”
“I was happy with the two saves at the end.” “Perhaps when I was a younger goalkeeper I wouldn’t have saved them.”
“But when you have gained a lot of experience you know you could be called upon at any time.” “I’ve been working on things with our goalkeeping coach Paul Barron and I give him credit for that.”
It’s not only the players who have done well, but our coaching staff too have done a great job – and hats off to Hughton, Calderwood, Barron, Thompson and Barron.
We were also sorry to see Richard Money leave last week, as he did a terrific job with our youngsters as the Newcastle Academy Director for the last 16 months.
Experience is huge for a goalkeeper, which is why Brad Friedel (38) and Edwin van der Saar (39) remain two of the best Premier League goalkeepers, and we fully expect young Shay Given (33) to be playing when he’s 40 – in 7 years time – and he’ll probably be better than he is now.
Harper is just 34, and if his current form is anything to go by, he has at least another 5 years at the top, which is not good news for our young Dutch star Tim Krul, but there again Tim has 20 years of his career left.