Alan Pardew felt Newcastle United produced a 'funny' performance in drawing 1-1 at home to Aston Villa, but praised 'bright spark' Hatem Ben Arfa.
Villa defender Ciaran Clark took advantage of woeful defending to head the visitors in front midway through the first half before Ben Arfa's screamer just before the hour earned the Magpies a point.
Pardew acknowledged his side did not deserve to take all three points and lauded the hard-working display of Villa.
"I can't say that we deserved to win and I could argue that Villa deserved to win, but I will take the draw," Pardew told Sky Sports.
"I thought we were a bit funny today. For us, we lacked a bit of discipline in areas and our set-plays were awful.
"It was a really frustrating game from a coaching point of view. There was lots of excitement and a fantastic wonder goal for us, with chances at both ends.
"I think we had the bulk of the play and we were better in the second half, but they still had chances to have won it themselves.
"Fair play to Paul and his team. I don't think we will come across many teams that work as hard as them as they really worked hard."
Newcastle finished fifth in the Premier League last season and Pardew believes some of his players need to improve if his team are to emulate that achievement.
Pardew added: "He's (Ben Arfa) been our bright spark, certainly our player of the month as he's been terrific, but we've got one or two who are below par and we have to try and get them up to speed.
"It will be difficult to match what we did last year, and we are trying to have a go. It's been a good start by us, not a brilliant start, but a good, steady start.
"We've had some tough games and we caught Villa at the wrong time. After two defeats they were determined to come here and show an effort, and they really did work hard."