By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor
Cheick Tiote has swapped referees' notebooks for their good books, with Newcastle United's stand-in skipper insisting he can lead by example.
The Ivorian enforcer proudly pulled on the captain's armband for Saturday's 2-2 draw against Liverpool, as the Magpies played for around 50 minutes with ten men following Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa's dismissal but still more than matched their opponents.
Tiote's dominant performance in the middle of the park was one of a number of positives for manager Alan Pardew to take from a very impressive Barclays Premier League point.
In recent seasons, by his own admission, the former FC Twente man has found himself on the wrong side of the match officials too often.
But, with just one booking to his name from seven appearances to date this term, Tiote has cleaned up his act and believes he is now ready to take on the responsibility of being a leader.
"The manager told me on Friday before training that I would be captain," the 27-year-old told nufc.co.uk.
"I just said 'okay, I will take it'. I wasn't expecting it so it came as a surprise.
"Maybe he chose me to be captain because I have good experience, I don't know. But I am happy and hope I can continue to do it.
"I always do my best on the pitch and always try to help my teammates. It doesn't matter whether I am captain or not but this made me very proud.
"When you are captain you have to push your teammates to believe in themselves and show them a good example.
"I think I am in the right position now. I have stopped taking red cards and yellow cards and that is good for me and the team."
Yohan Cabaye fired Newcastle ahead at St. James' Park on Saturday, only for the hosts to be pegged back shortly before half-time when Steven Gerrard netted rom the penalty spot, the result of Yanga-Mbiwa's red card.
The ten-man Magpies stunned Liverpool when substitute Paul Dummett edged them ahead again but Daniel Sturridge's close-range header secured a share of the spoils.
And despite surrendering a lead on two occasions, Tiote was delighted with the display of his teammates and their never-say-die attitude in difficult circumstances.
"It was a very, very good point for us because Liverpool are a tough team to play anyway, and it's even harder with ten men," he said.
"It wasn't easy but we did well. We stayed compact as a team after the sending-off and we are happy with a draw.
"We started well and deserved to score the first goal because we passed the ball well all over the pitch.
"We showed both sides of our game. We attacked well with 11 men, and then after the sending-off we had to defend and play as a team. This will give us a lot of confidence and we have to build on it now."