Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

No Cliques Now - Just a Squad of Players United in Title Quest; It May Be a Clich, but Steve Harper Says That the Spirit In: St James's Dressing Room Is Fuelling Premier Return Bid

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

No Cliques Now - Just a Squad of Players United in Title Quest; It May Be a Clich, but Steve Harper Says That the Spirit In: St James's Dressing Room Is Fuelling Premier Return Bid

Article excerpt

Byline: LEE RYDER

AS NEWCASTLE United players got changed at the Hawthorns after their 1-1 draw against West Brom in August, bystanders outside the Magpies dressing room were stunned to hear noises emerging from it which would not be out of place at a promotion party.

The laughter and banter from first-team stars -- not to mention blaring music as each player chose a song for the ghetto blaster - could be heard down the corridors of the famous old Black Country stadium.

One West Brom player quipped: "Blimey, what is it like when they win a game?" The harmony built up by Chris Hughton in such a short space of time was nothing short of remarkable.

In the dressing room at least, United were clearly not a "crisis club," with Toon players keen to get on with their jobs of restoring top-flight football to Tyneside - regardless of the political situation.

Steve Harper is confident the "excellent morale" in the United camp can carry the black-andwhites to their main goal of promotion this season.

Less than six months ago, bewildered United players turned up at the United team HQ wondering who was in charge and what their futures held.

Even then it was unclear whether caretaker boss Alan Shearer would be handed the reins at St James's Park on a fulltime basis, with the club up for sale as part of the backlash of relegation from the Premier League.

As key players such Habib Beye, Seb Bassong and Damien Duff headed for the exits, many wondered just what Newcastle would be left with.

However, what the eventual manager was left with was a squad of players hungry to climb back to the top flight.

Speaking about life within the four walls of St James's, Harper told the Chronicle in an open and honest assessment: "We have a really good spirit here now.

"We are all together and share the goal of getting back to the Premier League."

The meltdown of media coverage in modern football and the tapestries which go with it usually throw up a clutch of clichs about team spirit and unity. …

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