Newcastle United's 'perfectionist' reacts to setback

There's been a change in mindset at Newcastle United over the past few months.
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And Martin Dubravka and his team-mates left the pitch after Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Liverpool frustrated not to have played better and taken three points themselves.

They hadn’t gone into the game against Jurgen Klopp’s title-challenging team looking to keep the score down – they’d had their sights set on a win.

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Newcastle, now safe from the threat of relegation, were in the final until the final whistle thanks to a series of blocks and tackles – and a couple of saves from Dubravka – but they struggled to find space at the opposite end of the pitch.

“We stuck with the plan,” said Dubravka. “We were trying to be a threat up front, but give credit to Liverpool, they have such good players.

"They didn’t give us so much space, and even then, we tried to be dangerous.

"They created a couple of chances, and I was glad I could help the players not concede (more goals). But the mindset was ‘win the game’.”

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United have suffered some heavier defeats to Liverpool in recent years, but Dubravka, a “perfectionist”, was still frustrated at the one goal his team conceded.

Newcastle United's Martin Dubravka makes a save against Liverpool.Newcastle United's Martin Dubravka makes a save against Liverpool.
Newcastle United's Martin Dubravka makes a save against Liverpool.

“Obviously, I’m a perfectionist, so obviously I was trying to keep a clean sheet, but, unfortunately, it didn’t happen,” said the 33-year-old. “Give credit to Liverpool, because they have such quality players.”

Newcastle ended the weekend in 10th place on 43 points, and the club is six points behind eighth-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers with three games left to play.

A top-10 finish would be an achievement given that a clutch of teams are just below United in the table.

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Dubravka, however, says he and his team-mates – who finished 13th last season – aren't looking at the possible permutations.

The focus for them, according to Dubravka, is simply the next game, which is a daunting fixture away to Premier League leaders Manchester City on Sunday.

“I think we go just game by game,” said Dubravka. “I don’t think any of us think where we could finish.

"You can see improvements there, which I’m happy about, because we’ve been working so hard. We had the plan, and we have to stick with the plan.

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“It’s good that we’re probably safe, and can enjoy it a little bit more, but, on the other side, we still have a big challenge ahead of us. We have a massive game on Sunday. It’s a big challenge, and hopefully we can score some goals.”

Dubravka added: “We have to just prepare 100% for every game. The next game is coming soon, so we have to be ready.”

Meanwhile, Dubravka, under contract at United until 2025, addressed his future at the club in the programme for the Liverpool game amid speculation over a summer move for another goalkeeper.

“I'm trying to be in good shape – that's the first thing,” said the Slovakia international, who missed the start of the season through injury.

“I'm 33 now, and still think that I have more years ahead of me – and hopefully here.”