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Anita excited about the future with the Magpies
8:00am Saturday 21st September 2013 in Sport
WHEN Vurnon Anita moved from Amsterdam to Tyneside in the summer of last year, he had every intention of being an instant success at Newcastle United. After a largely frustrating settling in year, the little Dutchman has finally adapted to life in the Premier League.
His early problems may not have all been his own doing, with manager Alan Pardew often displaying reluctance to given him an extended run of domestic starts during a hectic campaign involving European football.
But as the Magpies prepare to face Hull City today, Anita is at the forefront of Pardew’s game-plan. A midfield position more often than not held by Cheik Tiote – or even James Perch – last season has been up for grabs this time around, and Anita has taken it.
“As a player, you always want to be in the team and when you are not, it is hard,” said Anita. “I needed to keep on being strong in the head, keep telling myself that I know I can do it. You have to be mentally strong, keep working hard and you can see now what the end results are. I am playing and enjoying my football.”
After Newcastle had paid £6.7m to Ajax for him in August last year, he had been expecting to be a key member of the first team having cost so much.
Despite being selected for the last three Premier League games, that has only taken his tally to 20 league starts since his arrival, so it is easy to imagine he held a few regrets about leaving one of the most respected clubs in world football.
“Of course, you want to be play and to show what you are capable of,” he said. “You want to show people what you can do so it was far from ideal last season for me that I was not playing regularly. I always kept strong in my mind that things would be OK because in football, you have ups and downs.
“There were no regrets about making the move. I know what I can do and there was also a period at Ajax when I was not in the team under a new coach. Back then, I kept working hard and believing in myself and eventually I got back in the team and played well enough to earn a move here.
“That is football - ups and downs. That was a down but it made me more determined to show what I can do. And it was the same last season here.”
Despite an encouraging pre-season he was only named among the substitutes again when Newcastle opened the season at Manchester City on August 19. The 4-0 drubbing looks to have actually helped the player’s cause for a bigger role in the team.
“I felt a similar emotion when I was left out at Manchester City,” said Anita. “The situation remained the same. I still had faith in my own ability. I wanted to be in the team but it was the first game of a new season and I knew I would get another opportunity to play and to be honest, it came sooner than I thought. Now, here I am, still standing and playing regularly and I am determined to stay in the team.”
“As a player you always want to start games and that is happening now. It is up to me to show that I want to keep on playing by doing my best. There were no specific instructions for me from the manager. I just kept on doing my thing. I know what I can do and am just happy to be playing.”
Anita’s return to the starting line-up has led to Newcastle picking up seven points from the last nine available to them in the league, with a draw against West Ham backed up with victories over Fulham and Aston Villa.
The mini-run has helped to dampen down the frustration of not landing another striker before the transfer window closed on September 2 – and Anita sees no reason why the improved fortunes can’t continue against Hull at St James’ today.
He said: “I came here to be competing at the top end of the table and a win over Hull will push us up there. Our ambition is to be up there with the very best teams. It is pressure for us but it is good pressure.
“I was used to winning games at Ajax so I know all about this kind of pressure and now it is all about winning games for Newcastle to try to get us up there with the teams at the top of the league.
“It was difficult last year, not winning, not being in the team. It was a new experience for me but it made me stronger as a player.
“The ambition is to try to get back into Europe. It is still the highest thing you can achieve with your club and it is also good for Newcastle that other countries see what Newcastle is capable of. I think that is what we have to do.”
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