Sean Longstaff provides an interesting insight into the dressing room mood at Newcastle United
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Steve Bruce’s side looked to be sleepwalking into relegation after a lacklustre performance in the 3-0 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion last month.
Demands for Bruce to be sacked were at a high but owner Mike Ashley publicly stood by his head coach.
Since then, the Magpies have opened up a nine-point gap on the bottom three with wins against Burnley and West Ham, plus draws versus Tottenham and Liverpool.
United have turned around their dreadful mid-season run of two wins in 20 to losing just one of their previous eight games.
Now, Longstaff insists he and his teammates are aiming to overtake the teams above them rather than look over their shoulder.
"The good thing is when we didn’t win in a long time, the teams above us didn’t really pull away,” Longstaff told NUFCTV.
"If we finish the season well, there are teams above us that we can catch. That’s the way we’re looking now – up the table and not looking at what the teams below us are doing.
"It’s been a lot more positive around the training ground over the last few weeks.
"It’s been a good place to come, the laughing and joking is back – that wasn’t there for a few months. It’s difficult but understandable when you’re not winning.
"Hopefully we are through that little rough patch now and things are looking a bit more positive.
"All we can do is keep listening to what the staff are putting in place and try and pick up results to get us higher up the table.”
Newcastle’s upturn in form has coincided with Longstaff’s return to the starting XI.
The Geordie midfielder had been out of the team for 11 consecutive matches before being recalled when Spurs visited St James’ Park.
In a change in formation for Bruce and co, Longstaff has featured in a midfield three alongside Jonjo Shelvey and Miguel Almiron.
He added: "You can only do so much. In training, that’s the only chance you’re going to get (to impress).
"Away from football, there are things that have helped me massively.
"The main thing is when you come in, you know that you are putting in 100%, working on things and getting better.
"As long as I feel I’m getting better every day – that’s the main thing.
"There are maybe managers that like or don’t like you – there’s nothing you can do about that.
"It’s just about me training well every day, putting my best foot forward and trying to make it hard as possible and trying to force the staff to give me a chance.
"I got a bit lucky or unlucky for Isaac (Hayden) getting injured, which is not the way I wanted to do it but it’s worked out in my favour a little bit.
"Hopefully now I can keep the shirt for as long as possible.”