Best: Smells like Toon spirit

The Magpies head for promoted QPR having collected seven of the
first nine Premier League points they have contested and booked
their place in the Carling Cup third round. Given that they have
done so against the backdrop of a difficult summer which has seen
key players Kevin Nolan, Jose Enrique and Joey Barton leave St
James’ Park and no big-name striker arrive in place of Andy
Carroll, that is a more than creditable, if slightly surprising,
achievement. Best said: “It goes to show how together we are as a
team and a club, because I don’t think anyone would have backed us
to do as well as we have. “That’s what normally happens in life –
when you are backed into a corner, the real you comes out.” That
has certainly proved to be the case for Best, who at one point this
summer seemed to be destined for the exit door. However, it was he
to whom manager Alan Pardew turned for the last Premier League game
against Fulham with Shola Ameobi injured, and he responded with a
match-winning double. Best will hope for another chance to prove
his worth at Loftus Road, and he insists there is no reason why a
positive start cannot continue. He said: “Definitely not. We have
still got a very strong, young team that’s looking to stride
forward.” The day before Pardew’s men eased past Fulham, QPR lost
2-0 at Wigan with Barton looking on from the stands after
completing his move the previous day. The midfielder’s exit from
Tyneside seemed inevitable for much of the summer after he was told
he would not be offered a new contract, but if he will not be
missed in the boardroom, he certainly will in the dressing room.
Best said: “I got on very well with Joey, as well as Jose and Andy,
and when we play against them there will be something in there
because they are friends off the field as well as on. “But again,
I’m a Newcastle player and he’s at QPR, so we will be talking after
the game and not before.” Best and Barton are unlikely to come into
direct contact too often during the game, and the striker will
resist the temptation to remind his former team-mate of what he
left behind with a robust challenge. He said with a smile: “No,
that’s not really my game. I’ll leave that to Cheick [Tiote].”