Mohamed Diame is ready to hit form for Newcastle United – and drive the club up the table.
The midfielder’s performances in the first half of the season have come under scrutiny.
And Diame has admitted that he “started slowly”.
However, the 31-year-old – who has an influential player in the second half of last season – is feeling “fresh” ahead of tonight’s home game against Manchester United.
Asked about his form, Diame said: “I started slowly, but playing every game is helping me to be ready week in, week out.
“I feel good, I feel fresh. We’ve been playing every three days now, but I feel good. I’m going to keep going and get better game after game.”
Diame was in the Newcastle team which was held to a 1-1 draw at Vicarage Road on Saturday. Watford came from behind to claim a point thanks to a late equaliser from Abdoulaye Doucoure.
The draw had follow the heaviest defeat of Rafa Benitez’s tenure at Newcastle, the 4-0 Boxing Day loss to Liverpool at Anfield.
“We know that we have been chasing points since the beginning of the season, and when you are close like that after working very hard all the game, it’s disappointing,” said Diame.
“But I think we need to take the positives. The team showed a good attitude and a reaction, because I think the team had a really bad game against Liverpool.
“We had the reaction. I knew that we would react.
“Everyone was disappointed with the bad game we had. We knew that Liverpool are a massive team and a good opponent.
“You can lose a game, but at least you have to show something, more character, and show a better attitude than we did against Liverpool. It was important to react, and we did it.
“Now we need to be focused on Man United at home. We will try to use our fans and the atmosphere to try to disturb this team.”
A 1-0 home win over Man United in February last year proved a pivotal result for the club, which went on to finish 10th.
“We know we are capable of having a good game and winning against Man United at home,” said Diame.
“We know that. We have to make sure we’re ready and start the game on top of them and use the atmosphere, because we know the fans are always here to push us. It’s going to be an important game.”
The visitors sacked Jose Mourinho last month and put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in interim charge.
“It’s still a big team, no matter who they have got as a manager,” said Diame. “They have players of quality, and now it looks like they are enjoying their football more.
“But that doesn’t change anything for us. We are going to try to get on top of them and disturb them to make sure we come away with the points.”
Newcastle took a 2-0 lead at Old Trafford earlier this season, only to lose 3-2.
“We know we can beat any team in this league,” said Diame.“It’s just about being ready showing the right attitude, and that’s it.
“When we are doing the good things, as we were doing last year, we’re a team who can beat any team. It’s just about being ready.”
Diame could be reunited with Jonjo Shelvey in the centre of the park against Man United after the midfielder’s return from injury.
The two players forged an excellent partnership in the second half of last season.
Diame said: “Jonjo is an important player in this squad. We know the quality he’s got.
“He’s going to come back and help the team.”