Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe believes his side still “have a lot of work to do” as they look to avoid relegation, but speaking to NUFC TV, Howe admits he was “pleased” with his team’s performance after The Magpies claimed a crucial victory over Leeds United.
Despite taking all three points in West Yorkshire, The Magpies remain in the relegation zone in 18th following Norwich City’s 3-0 success against Watford, but Newcastle are now only one point off safety and have a game in hand over The Canaries as well as a better goal difference.
The significance of the victory will instantly lift everyone’s mood around the club and the players will feel more confident that they can climb out of the bottom three as they head off for a week-long warm weather training camp in Saudi Arabia.
"So pleased for the supporters because they’ve been incredible for us.”
At the tenth time of asking, the travelling Toon Army contingent were finally able to enjoy a first away win of the campaign, after previously enduring three draws and six defeats.
It ended a run of 244 days without an away victory as the last time Newcastle won outside of the North East was on the final day of last season, when they beat already relegated Fulham 2-0 at Craven Cottage.
When Shelvey struck his second goal of the season with 15 minutes remaining, the 2,650 Newcastle fans in attendance will have been on the edge of their seats as they've scored the first goal in 10 other league fixtures this season, but only held on to win against Burnley, so once the full time whistle went at Leeds, there was huge relief that they secured three valuable points.
“Hopefully it will prove to be a turning point for us.”
Once Newcastle scored, instead of sitting back and inviting pressure, they were on the front foot looking to add a second which is something that Howe insists his side are "working towards".
Howe said: "It wasn't a 1-0 necessarily backs against the wall for a long period of time, it was a 1-0 trying to make it two. The positive approach really pleased me once we'd scored."
The Newcastle boss was full of praise with his players attitude and spoke highly of his substitutes, noticeably Sean Longstaff, who he described as "magnificent" when he replaced the injured Joelinton just before the break.
"There was a steeliness about us, there was determination that we need to show on a more consistent basis. I'm very proud of the players. The whole squad played its part."
The Magpies are now unbeaten in their last three league matches and will look at this result as an opportunity to kick on with this upturn in form and get more precious wins on the board.
“All of the players that went off - that’s a huge blow for us.”
Howe admitted that was the "only down point" off the result and confirmed that Joelinton was struggling with his groin and has been ever since Howe was appointed as the club's head coach. While Lascelles felt something in his hamstring and Dummett has had limited training time, since he only returned against Watford and is still experiencing some fatigue.
“By all accounts, it's a stonewall penalty.”
There was a controversial penalty incident which didn't go Newcastle's way late on as Allan Saint-Maxmin was tripped by Robin Koch inside the box, but the decision was swiftly waved away by referee Chris Kavanagh and VAR decided not to intervene, much to the bemusement of the Frenchman.
Howe stated that he's yet to see the incident again but admitted that Saint-Maximin and The Magpies bench were adamant that a penalty should have been awarded.
It was clear there was contact so it's hard to understand why it was quickly dismissed, fortunately for Newcastle it didn't affect the result, but the inconsistency of VAR needs to be addressed.
“Hopefully the trip will be a really worthwhile experience.”
Newcastle's next league fixture is against Everton on the 8th February, so the black-and-whites are heading to Jeddah for a warm weather training camp, in which they will also play a behind-closed-doors match against Al-Ittihad, while they are in the Middle East.
It's a perfect opportunity for the squad to have a bonding experience and put themselves through intense training sessions in hot and humid conditions, before returning to the UK to complete their remaining 17 top-flight fixtures.
With eight days to go until the January transfer window closes, Newcastle will also still be hoping to bring in a few more players to bolster their squad in a bid to preserve their Premier League status.