Steven Taylor insists he and his Newcastle United pals are not concerned with relegation.
This time last season the Magpies had aspirations of a top-four finish and UEFA Champions League qualification, but it has been a completely different story this time round. A 4-0 hammering at Manchester City on Saturday was their 16th loss of the campaign, and this leaves them just three points above Aston Villa who currently occupy the final relegation position.
Despite a run of three defeats in their last four matches, Taylor remains confident there is enough quality in Alan Pardew’s squad to avoid a repeat of four years ago, when they were relegated on the final day of the season. Indeed, the defender insists he and his team-mates are not only looking up at the table, but are also relishing the added responsibility of competing in the UEFA Europa League, in which they face Benfica in a two-legged quarter-final.
“I am confident in my team-mates. I look around the dressing room at the players who I train with every day, and I am sat around top-class. This definitely makes me believe we are going to do well,” he told the Evening Chronicle. “We are not looking down, we are looking up.
“We are looking at who we can catch. If you look at the games we have coming up – Benfica twice, Fulham and then Sunderland – we are excited. In the next few weeks, I am looking to see this all wrapped up in the Premier League and hopefully we can look forward to the Europa League.”
The Magpies play three of their four league matches in April at St James’ Park, against Fulham, rivals Sunderland, and Liverpool, whilst they also travel to West Bromwich Albion. Next month, they travel to West Ham United and Queens Park Rangers, before ending the season at home to Arsenal.
After their mauling at the Etihad Stadium, Pardew expressed his opinion that his side need to win at least two of their remaining fixtures to secure their Premier League survival. And despite Taylor’s comments, only then can they fully focus on winning the Europa League, which would be the first piece of silverware to arrive on Tyneside since the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1969.