Menatality, discipline and control.
With or without Rafa Benitez in the dugout Newcastle United will stick to their tried and tested formula, according to forward Ayoze Perez.
The reason? Because it gets results.
A successful Championship campaign, which ended in final day title glory, was masterminded by Benitez, absent in person, but not in voice, from Sunday’s Swansea win.
And that triumph was built on a number of key principles by the Spaniard.
Applying the same principles with the same band of players at a higher level should, according to many experts, produce a totally different result. Sunday proved that was not so.
While Benitez was not at the Liberty Stadium, due to ongoing issues after a recent operation, Perez believes United were ‘Rafa-like’ in South Wales, just like they had been week-in, week-out in their victorious second tier campaign.
He said: “It was a massive result for us.
“Even though we not have our manager with us, we tried to make it as normal as we could. He wasn’t able to be here, but even if he had been here, it would still have been tough. We knew what we had to do, and we did it well.
“We had a little conversation before the match, where he was saying some key things. Then after that, the rest of the staff did great work. They made sure that we controlled everything.
“We know the mentality we have to have, and that is important.
“We did our game plan well. It was clear what we had to do. We knew we were going to have our chances, and finally we were able to score.
“We were really compact all game, and doing a great job in defence. That was the main reason why we were able to get the three points.”
The man who stole the show for United on the day was skipper Jamaal Lascelles.
And Perez admits he was delighted to see his captain produce the goods at both ends of the pitch.
“He was really important for us,” he said. “He saved a goal with his challenge and then scored at the other end. That was important, but it also important that everyone is focused and ready to play and do their best.
“We are really pleased to get these three points, and also for Jamaal as well.”
Perez was a key component of the Swans win, linking up expertly with frontman Joselu, often interchanging from No 10 to the striker role with his compatriot, as well as providing Mikel Merino with an outlet.
When asked about the distinctly Spanish core to United under Benitez, Perez said: “Personally, it is really good because I am Spanish, but it is important that we all do the right job no matter where we are from.
“If we get results, then it doesn’t matter where you are from.
“At the end, you have to be a team as much as you can, and work for each other.”
Meanwhile, Perez has revealed that it’s Newcastle’s ambition this season to prove their Premier League doubters wrong.
Negative headlines seem to have followed the Magpies around over the course of the summer, with a lack of significant transfer activity and question marks over manager Benitez’s future at the forefront of the fans mind, along with THAT Mike Ashley interview.
A difficult start to the campaign in which United lost their opening two top flight games and were dumped out of the League Cup on home turf by Nottingham Forest, as well as bans for Jonjo Shelvey and Aleksandar Mitrovic, have intensified that somewhat.
That has led many pundits to write United off this season. Before the international break Benitez’s men were cast off as relegation fodder.
Perez, though, thinks all this negativity has made people lose sight of the quality in the current squad and he believes that game-by-game those in the United ranks will go about proving these so-called experts wrong.
“People haven’t really been talking about the players that were here last season, but that is normal when the window is open,” he said.
“There are always a lot of rumours about what is or isn’t going to happen, and you have to deal with that. There was talk about what players might come in, but we know the team we have and we know how strong we can be.
“We still have to do a lot of work, and we can improve a lot, but we know how good we are. This dressing room has a lot of ambition, and we all have the desire to win games. That is going to be important right the way through the season.”