VURNON Anita’s now repaying Newcastle United’s faith in him – and Alan Pardew has the figures to prove it.
The midfielder has been keeping Cheik Tiote out of Alan Pardew’s league starting XI.
Anita – who has now adjusted to the pace and power of English football – rarely wastes the ball.
The 24-year-old joined Newcastle from Ajax a year ago, and Pardew feels competition from Tiote for the team’s holding role is bringing the best out of the Holland international.
“He’s an economical user of the ball,” said Pardew, whose side face Everton at Goodison Park on Monday night.
“He does a lot of work, a bit like Tiote, which doesn’t always go detected.
“But he has his nose in front at the minute, and Cheik will be desperate to address that.
“That’s what you want – competition. Vurnon’s under pressure to play well because he has Cheik, one of the best in the last few years in the Premier League, breathing down his neck.
“But it’s his economical use of the ball which has been beneficial to us in recent games.”
Tiote, now in his fourth season at United, struggled for form and fitness during last season’s relegation battle.
And Pardew is keen to see the Ivory Coast international get back to his best.
The 27-year-old won praise for his performance in the midweek win over Leeds United in the Capital One Cup.
“We turned over the ball, we were more solid, and Tiote had a lot to do with that,” said Pardew.
“He was back to near his best. He was a lot more comfortable in possession than last year. He looks more like himself and I am hoping for a big season from Cheik.”