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].”