Newcastle United’s Dan Burn has stated that the club has no intention of stopping now that they have clawed their way out of Premier League relegation peril and are within touching distance of the top ten.
The Magpies moved 15 points clear of the relegation zone with their 1-0 win over Crystal Palace at St James’ Park on Wednesday night, their sixth in a row on Tyneside, something they hadn’t done in the Premier League since Sir Bobby Robson’s reign in 2004.
With five games remaining, they are in 11th place, tied on 40 points with Brighton in 10th, but with mathematical safety not yet confirmed and top two Manchester City and Liverpool among their remaining opponents, they want to keep the momentum going.
“Well, 40 is the magic number,” remarked Defender Burn, “but we’ll just keep going till it’s done.” We don’t want to stop here; we want to reach the highest point possible.
“I think we’ve made some progress from where we were before the ownership took over to where we are now.”
When Newcastle’s new owners finalised their takeover in October last year, Burn was still wearing the colours of Brighton, and the club he was to join in January was five points adrift of safety when Eddie Howe was hired as head coach the following month.
On Wednesday, Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan returned to St James’ for the first time since January 8, when he witnessed the Magpies lose 1-0 to League One Cambridge in the FA Cup, as the turnaround they sought eluded them.
During that time, though, they have won nine of their fourteen league games and have only lost three.
Miguel Almiron’s stunning 32nd-minute strike and a solid second-half rearguard action kept Palace at bay and spurred loud celebrations at the final whistle, reminding boyhood fan Burn of the days when the club competed in the Champions League against the likes of Juventus and Bayer Leverkusen.
“I enjoy playing at home,” he remarked. It reminds me of what it was like when I was a youngster.”
If the official line is that there is still work to be done, it appears like Newcastle will be able to focus on their summer recruitment drive in no time.
Patrick Vieira, the Palace manager, is reluctant to look too far ahead as he presses his players to show that they have a future in his bright new world.
“You constantly want to grow personally and collectively,” Vieira remarked. We want to improve as a team, but we don’t want to jump to any conclusions just yet.
“We still have six games to play, six games that are really vital to us.” Of course, when we come to this judgement, we’ll look at how the players conduct themselves and how much they want to compete each week, how far they want to push themselves, and how committed they are to the squad and the football club.”