Alan Pardew has conceded he is still trying to figure out how to get the best out of mercurial winger Hatem Ben Arfa ahead of Newcastle's game against Chelsea this weekend.
Ben Arfa has proved he can be a match-winner on his day but his form has been hit and miss in a season of mixed performances where he has often drifted in and out of matches.
Pardew insisted Newcastle, who lost to north-east rivals Sunderland last weekend, are in desperate need of greater consistency in the mercurial Frenchman's play.
"The truth with Hatem is we need a consistency in his play, and that's what we are searching for in the team," Pardew said.
"The decision-making process of Hatem is sometimes crucial, taking players on or playing it quickly. It's that balance that we are trying to get in the team that's right for Hatem and right for us."
Newcastle are without a win in their last three matches ahead of the visit of Jose Mourinho's side on Saturday. Pardew confessed his admiration for the Portuguese coach and knows his side will have their work cut out against a manager at the "top of his game".
He said: "Because he has that flamboyant character and he can be amusing and articulate in the same sentence, it sometimes takes attention away from the professionalism he brings to the training ground and the organisation.
"I always find when you play him, his teams are very, very well organised and very difficult to break down, and that's why he gets the wins he gets.
"You can see Jose is comfortable at Chelsea and you can see in his demeanour that he is at the top of his game at the minute, so it's tough to cross swords with him when he is like that."