Jamaal Lascelles has told Newcastle their season starts now after admitting they have not been good enough to date.
The 28-year-old Magpies skipper marshalled a concerted defensive display as Eddie Howe’s men finally secured their first Premier League victory of the campaign at the 15th attempt against Burnley on Saturday to rekindle their survival hopes.
Never before has a team which has endured the same barren start in the Premier League era managed to avoid the drop, but Lascelles is hoping a hard-fought 1-0 win over the Clarets can provide the springboard for something special on Tyneside.
He told the club’s official website: “Even now, it’s just such a relief. We are a group of winners and we expect so much of each other, and we’ve been going through a real hard time.
“It’s just been so frustrating because we know our individual ability and our collective ability. To get that win, it was just such a relief. All that built-up emotion after every single draw or defeat we’ve had. To then go and win our first game, it was just a relief.
“Our season starts now. We know we’ve been miles off it, we haven’t been good enough. As a group of players, our season starts now.
“We’ve got eight days until our next game, but we want to carry on this momentum and have a real good push. We just need to keep that same attitude, mentality and confidence, and then we’ll do well.”
That new-found confidence will be tested to the full by a fixture list which takes Newcastle to Leicester and Liverpool in their next two games before Manchester City and Manchester United visit St James’ Park.
However, they way they squeezed past Burnley four days after they had only just failed to do so with 10 men against Norwich in midweek is a good sign for Lascelles.
He said: “It’s absolutely huge. We know ourselves from when we’ve been in tough situations, you get one win and something just clicks. It’s like a mentality shift. It brings so much belief and confidence.
Callum Wilson’s 40th-minute strike after keeper Nick Pope had spilled Joe Willock’s cross under pressure from Fabian Schar proved decisive on a day when the home side started poorly – Johann Gudmundsson hit the post with an early attempt for the visitors – but a first clean sheet in the league since the final day of last season was just as important.
James Tarkowski captaining the Clarets in the absence of the injured Ben Mee, was philosophical in defeat.
He told the club’s official website: “It’s not the end of the world. It’s still early on in the season, there’s plenty of time to put things right and get points on the board.
“It’s disappointing, but we move on to next weekend back at home, before another home game after that. Hopefully those margins fall in our favour sooner rather than later.”