Steve McClaren spoke of his huge relief after Newcastle secured a priceless victory in their fight to stay in the Premier League.
McClaren’s position as the head coach at St James’ Park had come into question after a run of just two victories from 14 games which had left them second bottom of the table.
The former England coach inspired a huge victory against Jürgen Klopp’s previously high-flying Liverpool to dampen suggestions he was about to lose a position he only took over in the summer.
Two second-half goals, one an own-goal from Martin Skrtel and the second a fine finish from Georginio Wijnaldum, whose position in the team had been in doubt, secured Newcastle a first win at St James’ Park since October.
“It’s absolutely huge, absolutely massive,” said McClaren. “Once or twice we’ve taken ourselves to the brink of crisis and clawed our way back and that’s what we’ve done today.
“We worked hard, it is so tough to get a result in this league. We’ve crawled off the field, we’ve put in so much effort. That’s what we need every week. The harder you work the luckier you get. It’s about time we had some decisions.”
McClaren was asked if the victory had saved his job. He said: “I don’t think it has anything to do with the job, it has to do with belief. We really believe in this team, we really believe in these players. They are young and at times, confidence can be knocked easily and be drained.
“In terms of me personally, it just saves me tonight from banging my head against the wall and wondering what to do the next week. It kind of saying, ‘That’s us, that’s what we are. We’ve been that, do it today and do it next week.’
McClaren did concede that it has been a “tough two weeks” for the club, adding: “The team has taken a lot of criticism, as everyone else has, and rightly so. We have got not qualms, we had to keep quiet. The only response you can give is on the field and they have given that today.
“We hope that’s the lightbulb moment that turns it around and we do that week in, week out.”
For Klopp it was the second defeat since he took control at Anfield. Alberto Moreno did beat the Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliot when his side trailed 1-0 but the strike was ruled out for offside – although Elliot claimed he was aware it would not count.
“It was a clear goal,” said Klopp, who admitted that “nearly everything – the start, the middle and the end” went wrong for his side. “I saw it. No problem, but these things happen. When the linesman sees this goal he won’t feel good. It was a brilliant goal, goal of the month.
“We scored a goal, but the linesman thought that because we were not good today, there’s no way we can score a world class goal! This was obviously not a really good football game.”
On their title chances taking a hit, Klopp added: “Everybody on your side of the table [talked about Liverpool being title contenders]. I didn’t hear anybody on this side of the table talking about it.”
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