Ciaran Clark admits he’s feeling the pressure at Newcastle United.
But he’s got absolutely no regrets about swapping the annual battle at the bottom at Aston Villa for the weight of expectation at St James’s Park.
There’s pressure when you’re at the top of the league trying to win promotion, but it’s a good type of pressure
The Republic of Ireland international has been on record in the past explaining the reason behind making the £5million switch from Villa Park in the summer.
Put simply, despite both suffering the embarrassment of relegation last term, Clark believed that things were heading in the right direction on Tyneside, while the same could not be said at his former club.
And it’s turned out that the defender was right, with Villa still looking over their shoulders in the bottom half of the second tier while United are streaking clear at the Championship summit, and appear poised to return to the Premier League promised land at the first time of asking.
Ahead of this afternoon’s clash with Fulham, Clark has opened up about the pressures of being the division’s top dogs.
And although he says it is not something he is used to, or has found comfortable, he’d much prefer the strains chasing a title brings than the day-to-day toil of a relegation fight.
“There’s pressure when you’re at the top of the league trying to win promotion, but it’s a good type of pressure,” said Clark.
“We’re doing the best we can to try to get up, and it’s all positive really.
“I’m really enjoying being here, and being part of this.
“I’m looking forward to the next few games, and the remaining games of the season.
“In the form we’re in, we just want to keep going.”
When Clark traded life at Villa for United, few could have predicted how the season would have panned out.
With United already having two central defenders - Jamaal Lascelles and Chancel Mbemba on their books and having signed Grant Hanley, he wasn’t even sure of a game.
Looking back, Clark certainly feels vindicated.
“You can never predict what’s going to happen, but when I moved here, I just had a feeling that the club was set up to bounce back,” he said.
“I just felt we were in a good position to get things moving in the right direction again.
“It was always a club that was set up to fight to get back to the Premier League.
“There were a lot of things to that – the manager staying was a big factor, and then the quality of the signings that came in was another big positive.
“All of that meant it was a no-brainer for me to come here, and at the minute, it looks a good decision.
“Hopefully, we can keep fighting and keep winning until the end of the season and get back up to the Premier League.”
One thing United have done in recent days has put down a marker at the top of the table.
While results on Tuesday evening meant their lead at the top was cut to three points, United’s draw at Reading meant they’d faced the other top four teams in a week, away from home and managed to muster seven points.
“Before the week, we would have taken seven points from the three away games,” Clark explained.
“We knew it was going to be a tough week because they were all tough sides, and they’re all challenging for a place at the top of the league.
“They were against teams near us at the top of the table, so they were important games and important results.
“But there are some tough games still to be played and we know we’ve got to finish the season strongly.
“The teams below us will keep pushing and keep fighting, and will go right down to the wire, down to the last couple of games.
“We just want to make sure we’re concentrated and we don’t take anything for granted.”