Despite off-field controversy over transfers in the summer, Jonas Gutierrez has insisted that Newcastle are in the highest spirits, and are ready to stake their claim on the top half of the Barclays Premier League table.
After surviving the season so far unbeaten, the Toon are currently fourth on the table. The start has surprised many pundits after Alan Pardew was unable to land a striker, or a replacement for the departed Joey Barton, before deadline day.
And Gutierrez believes that having their backs against the wall has encouraged the squad to step up and surprise everyone with their top-class performances.
“The spirit which many people talked about last season, and in our promotion season, is still there and indeed, may even be stronger, and that has served us well too,” Gutierrez told The Journal.
“We have shown that in all our games this season, particularly in the two Cup ties, the game at QPR where we fought really hard for a draw and at Aston Villa where we had to come from behind.”
The winger said that team bonding has made the Toon group more close-knit than ever, with the players spending time off the pitch as well as on it.
“On Tuesday we all went paint-balling up at Slaley Hall,” he explained.
“All the players and coaching staff went, and for some of us it was a brand new experience. And it was a super day, too. Cheick (Tioté) was the star, he was great, but it was just one of those days that everyone enjoyed.
“This team has such a good spirit, we’re all really good friends and love each other’s company.
“It certainly helped all the new lads settle in even more, not that they needed to really, but also those type of things just help bring fun to the team and bring everyone closer together.”
Gutierrez signed a contract extension with Newcastle this week, tying him to the club for the next four years. And the 28-year-old Argentine couldn’t be happier with having his long-term future settled at St James’ Park.
“That is terrific for me,” he said of the deal. “I am 28 now, so will have four more seasons at St James’ Park where I hope to give my best to the team, the manager and the supporters.
“I love playing for this football club. Ever since I joined in 2008 I have felt a special bond with the city and its supporters.
“They are like nothing I have experienced before and it is honestly a pleasure to play for the fans.
“I think the rest of the players think that, too. I know Colo very well of course and he thinks the same, he was so proud to be made captain and in my view, I think he is playing the best football of his career – we both have a lot to thank the manager and board for.”