Newcastle must tighten up, admits Williamson


The Newcastle United defender Mike Williamson is hoping for a return to the defensive resilience that characterised the club's start to the season, in order to boost the charge for a European place.

Newcastle conceded only eight goals in their first 11 Premier League matches of the current campaign as they made a flying start. However, in the 10 league games since the turn of the year, their defences have been pierced on 16 occasions, with 10 of those goals coming in disastrous visits to Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham.

Alan Pardew's side recorded their first clean sheet in six games in Sunday's 1-0 victory over Norwich City, and if Williamson and his back-five colleagues can finish the season in similar fashion to that in which they started it, European qualification could be a very real possibility.

The 28-year-old former Portsmouth defender said:"It's the unpredictability of football. All you can do is prepare well and apply yourself 100 per cent. Of course it has been frustrating to concede goals – that's the main frustration for a defender – but I am sure it will turn around."

Newcastle will hope that turnaround began at the weekend after they cemented themselves in sixth place in the table. That position could yet secure Newcastle a Europa League berth, but with nine matches remaining the team need to rediscover their best form if they are to give themselves a chance, with Pardew admitting that they have not been firing on all cylinders in recent weeks.

That would represent a major achievement for a club which only returned to the top flight two seasons ago, and in particular for a defence which lost left-back Jose Enrique to Liverpool before a ball had been kicked and Steven Taylor to injury in December.

The captain, Fabricio Coloccini, has been a key figure, and Williamson has witnessed at close hand the continuing emergence of a man who is building a reputation as a ball-playing centre-half.

He said: "Colo does it and he is probably one of the calmest players I have ever played with in terms of coming out with the ball and his vision and his passing ability. He has got a lot in his armoury. Looking at players like David Luiz and people who try to come out, sometimes it can cause problems. But for me, I am just a straightforward English defender. I try to head it, kick it, keep clean sheets and let other players play."

Should Newcastle achieve their European dream, they would set a new standard for sides attempting to establish themselves in the Premier League after promotion.

Both they and West Bromwich Albion survived comfortably last season to buck the prevailing trend, and that theme appears to have been picked up by both Swansea City and Norwich this time around.

Williamson said: "There have been plenty of success stories like that, teams who have got promoted, stayed in the league and then built on the season.

"There's no reason why not. Swansea are a fantastic football team, Norwich have been just as good in their own way, and it does show teams can come from the Championship and excel in the Premier League."

Meanwhile, Newcastle were yesterday fined £40,000 for failing to control their players during the derby match with Sunderland, who were fined £20,000, earlier this month with both clubs having admitted a Football Association charge.

Newcastle's penalty was doubled after they were hit with a similar charge after the home game against Arsenal in August.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own