Wednesday 16 November 2011
Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew says even he is surprised at how well his side has started the season.
The Magpies moved into third place in the Barclays Premier League on Monday after extending their unbeaten run since the start of the season to 10 matches with a 3-1 victory at Stoke City.
Newcastle have lost only one of the 13 fixtures they have played in all competitions - the 4-3 Carling Cup fourth-round defeat at Blackburn Rovers in October.
Some high-profile names left Newcastle in the summer, including Kevin Nolan, Jose Enrique and Joey Barton - and critics also noted their failure to land a big-name striker during the transfer window.
Ahead of Saturday's home meeting with Everton at St James' Park, Pardew insisted he was confident his team could prosper - but admitted he did not expect them to be flying quite so high.
He said: "You don't expect to go this far in the Premier League and not be beaten.
"We have had a couple of shaky games where it was definitely on the cards that we could lose, but we have managed to get something out of the game.
"I can't say I am not slightly surprised by how well we have done."
Tougher tests lie ahead - later in November, Newcastle travel to both Manchester Clubs before hosting Chelsea - but the more optimistic fans are starting to believe a top-six finish and European qualification may not be far-fetched.
Pardew, however, is happy to resort to the cliche of taking one game at a time and laughed off suggestions that the Magpies could get themselves involved in the title race.
He added: "We have had a great start and we are showing a lot of sides to us as a team. We will just take that into Everton and look no further than that."