ALAN Pardew believes Newcastle United’s tough pre-season is already paying dividends.
The club kicked off its pre-season campaign with a 4-2 win over Motherwell at Fir Park last night.
Haris Vuckic, Yoan Gouffran, Moussa Sissoko and Sylvain Marveaux were on the scoresheet for Pardew’s side.
Pardew told his players after the final ball was kicked last term that this pre-season would be the toughest they’d experienced at the club.
And he has brought in fitness consultant Faye Downey - who has worked with England’s rugby team - to work with his players as they prepare for the season opener at Manchester City on August 19.
“I said to the players before the last game of the season that this pre-season would be the toughest I would ever put on,” Pardew told SportMail.
“I think it showed how tough it has been by the 11 starters last night.
“They looked fit and sharp. At times, we really did open Motherwell up.”
Haris Vuckic, Yoan Gouffran and Paul Dummett impressed at Fir Park.
United used the ball intelligently in the final third of the pitch, and Pardew feels his players, which played under huge pressure in last season’s relegation battle, are again enjoying their football.
“I’ve always set my teams up to play,” he said.
“But when you are under the pressure we were last year you can look staid.
“We were just getting through games last year, like the QPR game, we just got through it.
“But you could see it was like Benfica, the shackles were off a bit, and there was no pressure.
“The players responded with what I want to see, which is good football and getting between the lines.
“I think the one thing that was reflected in the performance was that the shackles were off a bit.
“The pressure we were under last season wasn’t there. It was the same for our fans.
“It was great to see them and be able to say ‘hello’ in a more relaxed manner than we ended up with last year.
“On top of that, we had a really good performance.”