After seven games of the Premier League season, Alan Pardew looked like a dead man walking at Newcastle United, with only the preposterous length of his contract staying his execution.
However, since their 2-2 draw at Swansea at the start of October, the Magpies have won four on the bounce in all competitions.
More impressive still is the identity of their opponents, as Newcastle have beaten Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City on the road, as well as Liverpool and Leicester at home.
Pardew’s side will aim to continue their fine form at West Brom in their next match, a game they are 21/10 to win, but what has changed at St James’ Park to explain this form?
Clean sheets win matches
The Magpies have kept their opponents at bay in three of their four recent wins in all competitions, a huge change from the disaster their defence has been throughout the rest of 2014.
In the 29 Premier League matches they played this calendar year before beating Leicester, Newcastle kept just four clean sheets.
Pardew has landed on a steely back-four of Daryl Janmaat, Fabricio Coloccini, Steven Taylor and Paul Dummett, with the homegrown youngster shining against Raheem Sterling in the 1-0 win over Liverpool.
Newcastle finally started taking their chances
During their first six games of the season, Newcastle took 89 shots to their opponents’ 63, but scored half as many goals as the teams they were playing against (six to 12).
The Magpies weren’t as awful as results suggested, and they currently average the sixth-most shots per game in the Premier League with 14.1 – more than high-flying Southampton.
In the past few matches, they simply managed to start converting those shots into goals – scoring four in three games against Spurs, Man City and Liverpool from nine attempts on target.
New signings are finally bedding in and showing some form
Newcastle were hailed over the summer for pulling off some of the most exciting transfer business of the summer, but many of their new faces were disastrous in the first few weeks of the season.
There are still question marks over most of their recent acquisitions, but Ayoze Perez bagged the winner against Spurs and Liverpool, and star signing Remy Cabella is finally converting his fancy footwork into more meaningful returns, including the key assist at White Hart Lane.