Steve McClaren’s challenged running man Moussa Sissoko to play it again – after finally hitting his stride.
Sissoko had a hand in four of Newcastle United’s goals in yesterday’s 6-2 demolition of Norwich City.
Georginio Wijnaldum struck four times, and Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ayoze Perez also found the net in the win, which lifted the club off the foot of the table.
The result, the club’s first Premier League win of the campaign, has eased the pressure on head coach McClaren, who had been the second-favourite in the sack race just months after taking charge on Tyneside.
Sissoko struggled for form in last season’s relegation battle.
And the midfielder – who has frequently frustrated United by talking about his ambition to play for a Champions League team – hadn’t started the season well.
Sissoko was criticised for his second-half performance in the 6-1 defeat to Manchester City before the international break.
But the 26-year-old was unplayable at times against Norwich.
And McClaren has revealed the main piece of advice he has given Sissoko, signed two and a half years ago from Toulouse.
“Moussa is so powerful running, with or without the ball,” said McClaren.
Moussa showed what he can do. He wants to be a top-four player, and he will be if he plays like that.Steve McClaren
“We have told him to keep running. Moussa showed what he can do. He wants to be a top-four player, and he will be if he plays like that.”
McClaren was struggling himself to make sense of the game itself all after the match.
He said: “It is Newcastle! Is it possible to make any sense?
“It was our reward. I’m so pleased for the fans and the players. We didn’t get too down, and we won’t get too high.
“But we showed what we are capable of doing
“We have been calm, vocal and focused in our support for the players. It was great to see Gini (Wijnaldum) get the rewards.
“We rode our luck at times, defended solidly and got the breaks.”
Asked if the result was a relief, McClaren added: “Relief? Yes.
“But then thinking we have to prepare and do it again.
“The feeling is very short. Football is about momentum. You can have it the other way which we have had. Now we want it forward.
“We never got too down after Man City – or too high.
“There’s a long way to go, and lots of work to do, but this showed the potential.
“It showed the supporters what we are capable of doing.
“It wasn’t a game under control from anyone. That will lose and win you games in the long run.
“We have to get more control, but going forward we an be a threat.
“We shake everyone’s hands and we say well done and prepare for a big, big game. We need to keep it going.”
Meanwhile, Norwich manager Alex Neil, frustrated at his team’s defending, likened the game to a basketball match.
“Offensively, we looked dangerous, scored two really good goals, hit the post twice, had other good opportunities to score,” he said.
“To be honest, I thought the game was wide-open – it was a bit like a basketball match. I thought both teams were wide-open.
“It could have ended pretty much 8-8, but the opportunities we had, unfortunately we didn’t score.
“We hit the post or whatever, and pretty much most of the opportunities Newcastle had ended up in the back of the net.
“I thought both teams were really, really open and we could have score four, five or six ourselves.
“For them to score six based on the game itself, you could argue it was harsh, but we have got to defend better.”