Fabian Schar says he’s enjoyed his first season at “special” club Newcastle United – after coming through a “tough” start at St James’s Park.
Schar joined from Deportivo La Coruna last summer in a £3million deal, but the defender fond his opportunities limited in the first few months of the season.
The Switzerland international didn’t play for two months after the club’s Carabao Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.
However, Schar was handed a chance in November – and he took that opportunity with both hands.
And the 27-year-old went on to play his part as Newcastle, 13th in the Premier League ahead of tomorrow night's game against Liverpool at St James’s Park, pulled away from relegation trouble, having taken just three points from their first 10 games.
Reflecting on his first season on Tyneside, Schar said: “The first weeks or months were really tough when I didn’t play too much, and also the team wasn’t getting good results.
“But now, after one season, I can be really happy with what happened here.
“I enjoy playing here with all my team-mates, with the special stadium, with the fans always with us ... for me it’s a really nice year and I’m happy for this year.”
Newcastle secured their Premier League status last month with three games left to play.
“Now, where we are and where we were after 10 games ... we can be quite happy,” said Schar.
“We were last after 10 games with three points. It’s a good aim, we had, and we improved in the second half (of the season). Now to already have 40 points is a good thing.
“For myself, the season was quite good and I enjoyed my first season here.
“We improved. We worked a lot, and that’s what you can see over the season.”
United’s improved form in the second half of the season has been built on a solid foundation.
Newcastle have the seventh-best defensive record in the Premier League, though Schar believes this isn’t just down to the back five and goalkeeper.
This is the way we play,” Schar told the Premier League.
“It’s not only the defenders. I think that’s why we get some good results. It’s hard to break us down. I’m happy to be part of the team.”
Schar feels team can improve next season.
“Nobody wants to fight with relegation – it’s clear,” said Schar.
“The Premier League is a really tough league when you see how many teams are close to the bottom. It’s always tough.
“But, of course, I think we have quality in the team. If we continue like we did this season, I’m looking forward to improving (next season).”
Second-placed Liverpool , a point behind league leaders Manchester City, need to win to be certain of taking the title race into the final weekend of the season.
“We’ll see what happens,” said Schar.
“We will try to get a result. We’re just looking for our result. We want to get some points.
“We’ll do everything in this game. We want to win all our games. This is our last home game.
“This is the only thing we’re looking for – the rest is not in our hands.
“Clearly it’s going to be a really tough game. We have to be perfect to get something.
“That’s what we’re looking for.”
Rafa Benitez, United’s manager, has a strong affinity with Liverpool, having won the Champions League with the club during his six-year spell in charge at Anfield.
“He’s like the players,” said Schar. “We want to win games. We’ll do everything for a good result.”