Taylor credits spirit for soaring Magpies

Newcastle defender Steven Taylor insists a real team ethic is responsible for the club's impressive start to the season.

An early goal for the Magpies.

Monday night's 3-1 win at Stoke courtesy of a Demba Ba hat-trick lifted the undefeated Magpies up to third in the Barclays Premier League table, one point behind Manchester United.

Alan Pardew's side continue to defy the pundits who had tipped them to struggle having lost the likes of Andy Carroll, Jose Enrique, Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton in the last year.

However, far from affecting morale, those high-profile departures appear to have galvanised the dressing room as, with some shrewd additions in the summer, Newcastle have gone from strength to strength.

And crucially Pardew has them playing as a team, an attitude typified at the Britannia Stadium where winger Jonas Gutierrez spent more time helping out in defence than attacking in order to combat Stoke's threat from wide areas.

"The forwards are running around to make it difficult for balls to come into midfield and the wingers were a massive part," said Taylor, who played with a face mask protecting a broken nose.

"We knew if Jonas and Gabriel Obertan were on fire, running up and down and getting the ball in, we were going to cause them problems.

"We are just playing as a team, that is all we are doing. We can't afford to carry one person because we are a small squad and it has shown because everyone has pulled their weight."

The real test will come over the next few weeks with matches against Everton, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea.

How they do in those games will provide a more accurate gauge of how well Newcastle could do this season, but Taylor insisted the players were keeping their feet on the ground even if expectations among fans were rising by the week.

"We are not going to get carried away, it is still early stages," he added. "We have been lucky in some games but we just have to get on with it.

"We will keep on going and enjoy it really."

Pardew has urged his players to focus on the immediate future and not allow their minds to wander to grander plans.

"I think we have an immediate goal in front of us," he said. "We are playing against an Everton side on Saturday who have some good players and a manager who is one of the best in the world.

"If we can get through that game - even get a point - and get to Manchester City unbeaten that would be fantastic. That would be my immediate goal to the team.

"We are not really looking at the bigger picture, we are looking at the next game and if we can focus on that we can have a really good season."

Stoke, who suffered their first home league defeat of the season and only the second this year, now have to pick themselves up for a long trip to Israel and a difficult Europa League tie against Maccabi Tel Aviv.

"We are desperate to get through the group stages in order to bring a top European side here," manager Tony Pulis said.

"We have a massive task this week. We have a European game on Thursday away and we have been given the Monday night game before we have to fly five and a half hours to Israel and then play again on Sunday.

"It's a massive ask but we have to deal with it."

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