Pardew: Signings are paying off
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Alan Pardew is confident Newcastle are starting to reap the rewards of their January investment.
The Magpies spent heavily in the last winter transfer window having opted not to do so during the summer and then saw the rigours of their domestic and European commitments take a heavy toll.
The arrival of Mathieu Debuchy, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Massadio Haidara, Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran helped to stave off the spectre of relegation, if only just, but all have endured highs and lows since.
Sissoko is a case in point with the 24-year-old former Toulouse midfielder making an instant impact, scoring a match-winning double against Chelsea on his home debut on February 2, but then sometimes struggling for form until the last few weeks, when he has shown once again what an asset he can be.
Pardew, who will hope for more of what he got from the Frenchman in the 2-0 Barclays Premier League win over Chelsea at Tottenham on Sunday, said: "Like all players, especially coming from foreign leagues, they take time.
"They have some bursts, but then a lull and then come back again, and that's what Moussa has done.
"Some take much longer to settle, but fortunately at the moment, our guys are playing well.
"They have all got a grip on the Premier League, particularly the guys we brought in in the January window last year, and we are seeing the benefits of what we thought when we signed them, when [chief scout] Graham [Carr] and myself and everybody was looking at them."
Sissoko has been used in a series of different roles by Pardew, who has played him as a number 10, an orthodox attacking midfielder and most recently, wide on the right, where he kept Hatem Ben Arfa out of the team last weekend.
At 6ft 2ins, he is an imposing figure, but one who has had to get used to the physical demands of English football, and his hard work in training is starting
to pay dividends.
Pardew said: "Because he carries such a big frame, you can see sometimes in games, he looks weary.
"He has got a system that kind of gets itself back together, but it's that kind of period between it really affecting him and it coming back to him that he's getting used to.
"It's that repetitive sprinting that he's getting better at. We have worked hard on him this year and he is playing very well."