NEWCASTLE United enforcer Cheik Tiote is ‘10 times better’ than he was last season.
That’s the view of Magpies manager Alan Pardew after watching the Ivory Coast star produce a great display against Dutch side Den Haag on Saturday.
Tiote was outstanding in the centre of the park on his return to Holland, where he made his name with FC Twente before moving to Tyneside two years ago.
And Pardew insists the player is ready for his best season yet at Newcastle, after admitting Tiote had a sluggish start to the last campaign.
Pardew said: “Cheik looks 10 times better than he did last year, and I absolutely mean that.
“He didn’t come back well last summer, if I’m honest. However, he has summered well this time and is in great physical shape.
“It’s going to be a big season for Cheik.
“All my, what I would call big players, are important if we are to progress as a team, and Cheik certainly falls into that category. He is in a good place.”
It wasn’t just Tiote who impressed in Saturday’s goalless draw, however, with other senior players also looking in good shape ahead of the Premier League opener against Tottenham on August 18, which pleased Pardew who knows how much the team relies on their experienced men.
Pardew added: “Fabricio Coloccini is just immense for us. On Saturday, he just looked like himself, which is a top centre-half. So I’m happy with that.
“Tim Krul looked like Tim, if you know what I mean, as did Jonas Gutierrez who was really sharp as well.
“We can’t do as much as we want to without these guys in the team and playing well. We need to them be fit and in the team all season.”