Mohamed Diame outlines his ambitious aim for Newcastle

Mohamed Diame (left) and Huddersfield Town's Alex Pritchard battle for the ball.
Mohamed Diame (left) and Huddersfield Town's Alex Pritchard battle for the ball.

Mohamed Diame says St James’s Park must be a “fortress” for Newcastle United.

The club pulled away from the relegation zone with a third successive home win on Saturday.

We have to put down a marker, but if we only finish 16th or 17th, then the target will be just to finish above the relegation zone again. That’s not what we want.

Mohamed Diame

An 80th-minute goal from Ayoze Perez saw Rafa Benitez’s side beat Huddersfield Town 1-0 at St James’s Park.

The win followed home successive over Southampton and Manchester United.

“It was a huge win for us,” said Diame.

“We’re very happy, but we just have to keep going.”

“This has to be our fortress, and it has been that way for the last three home games.

“The fans are wonderful here, and we have to do all we can to make sure we stay in the Premier League.”

The win put Newcastle up to 12th spot, seven points above the relegation zone after the bottom six all lost.

Diame says the players can’t just think about merely avoiding relegation, however, and wants the club to “put down a marker” between now and the end of the season.

“We have to think about finishing as high as possible,” said the midfielder.

“For a club like us, it’s important to have a big target next season, which we can have if we finish high enough in the table.

“We have to put down a marker, but if we only finish 16th or 17th, then the target will be just to finish above the relegation zone again.

“That’s not what we want.

“We just have to keep going, even when we think we’re safe, so that we finish the season well and end up in a good position.”

Diame believes that Newcastle’s 1-0 win over Man United in February gave the players the belief they needed to turn a corner at home.

“When you beat big teams like Man United, it’s always important for your confidence, and it gave us a lot of self belief,” said the 30-year-old.

“When you win 1-0 against these big clubs, the mood is better and playing becomes easier. That was an important day for us.”

Diame’s own form in midfield has been a big factor in the club’s upturn in fortunes since December.

His partnership with Jonjo Shelvey was praised again by Alan Shearer on Match of the Day on Saturday.

Diame is delighted with how things have gone both for him and the team over the last couple of months.

“I’m trying to give my best, and, right now, I’m in a good moment,” added the former Senegal international.

“I have to make sure this form goes on for as long as possible.

“It means so much playing well in a winning team. Everything feels different now.

“When I go home now, I’m happy. I may be tired, but everything is fine.

“The mood of everyone is good, and that’s the most important thing now.

“This is a very good time for us. This club, this city, the fans, everything around us, it means you have to be winning in the Premier League and we can feel it.

“This is a massive club and a happy club now. We have to make sure it stays that way for as long as possible.

“This win feels amazing, but we have to keep going. It’s not finished yet.

“The Premier League is so difficult, you have to focus for every game.”