NEWCASTLE United’s latest signing may not be a “Hollywood” one and Alan Pardew admits he did not see it coming last summer, but he believes Ryan Taylor could be indispensable in the Europa League.
The Merseysider’s contract extension will keep him at St James’ Park until 2015.
Taylor has gone from bit-part player to key figure since scoring the only goal in August’s Wear-Tyne derby, playing at left-back, right and central midfield.
“He had to prove himself to me,” Pardew admitted. “I saw him in the summer on holiday and he mentioned it was the last year of his contract.
“He said he really hoped he had a good season.
“I thought, ‘I hope you do too, We’ll see how it goes, it’s not likely’.
“I didn’t say that at the time. But he couldn’t have played better than he has.”
Taylor is the third player rewarded with a new contract in a week, although Pardew was sanguine about the need for top-scorer Demba Ba to be next.
“That’s what is important for all the players here – to put in a fantastic season and earn a contract,” the manager reflected. “Tim Krul, Colo (Fabricio Coloccini) and Ryan Taylor have done that.
“If we achieve what is in front of us with the possibility of going into Europe, he will be indispensable.
“He isn’t a Hollywood signing. To us he is very important and technically a great player. I can play him more or less anywhere and he will do a really good, technical job.
“At a football club the size of this you’ve got to know when they pull on the shirt, they can play to the best of their ability. Sometimes you can say, ‘Let’s get somebody who is better than Ryan,’ but it doesn’t mean he can play to Ryan’s level because the shirt carries a certain amount of pressure.”
On Ba, he said: “I don’t think it’s anything to worry about too much. He has made it pretty clear he loves the football club. We hope that will be a big enough pull for him to stay.
“I think it’s important for Demba we get European football. When you get to this level you won’t get your best players to stay or encourage players to come unless you get into Europe.”