Best blast is reminder for Toon
The Republic of Ireland international, who belatedly announced himself on Tyneside with a hat-trick against West Ham in January before injury struck, served a timely reminder of his prowess in front of goal to see off Fulham. Best - like many of his team-mates as the post-Joey Barton era got under way - endured an indifferent start to the game, but took his chances when they came his way. Delighted manager Alan Pardew said: "He's a player who is trying to establish himself as a Premier League player. "He has that hunger and desire and I don't think actually when he is playing poorly, it affects him too much. "Some players, it does and perhaps in his first half, it could have done, but he isn't like that. "I never really worry about his confidence. He kind of has that in abundance, which is not a bad thing for a footballer. "He still needs to improve in some areas, but he was great today, especially in the second half." Best struck for the first time three minutes after the restart when Mark Schwarzer could only turn Yohan Cabaye's shot on to the crossbar, and doubled his tally with 66 minutes gone, turning smartly on to substitute Demba Ba's cross and stabbing home. Pardew is keeping his fingers crossed that owner Mike Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias can push home the club's interest in a striker and a left-back during the remaining few days of the transfer window. But asked if Best has proved himself as a Premier League frontman, he said: "He still has to prove that. "I have known him for a long, long time and come up against him a couple of times and for me, he has never really had a run where he has said, 'I'm the man'. "He will get an opportunity now and he needs to prove it." For all that is was Best who claimed the headlines, it took three fine saves from keeper Tim Krul to prevent Steve Sidwell, Chris Baird and Danny Murphy from dragging the visitors back into the game, and although he was finally beaten by Clint Dempsey at the end, the damage had been done. Fulham boss Martin Jol, who like Krul, comes from the Hague, said: "In Holland, they rate him as one of the top three goalkeepers. "He is young - the only thing he has to gain is experience, and that's why we should have put those two goals away in the corner with no chance for him."