Steve McClaren: I never feared I’d lose my job

Newcastle United manager Steve McClaren with Georginio Wijnaldum (centre) and Kevin Mbabu
Newcastle United manager Steve McClaren with Georginio Wijnaldum (centre) and Kevin Mbabu

Steve McClaren says he wasn’t worried about his losing his job before Newcastle United’s win over Liverpool – as he had “belief” in his players.

A strike from Georginio Wijnaldum and an own goal from Martin Skrtel gave McClaren’s side a deserved 2-0 win yesterday.

Newcastle United manager Steve McClaren congratulates Vurnon Anita after the win

Newcastle United manager Steve McClaren congratulates Vurnon Anita after the win

United’s committed performance was in marked contrast to that against Crystal Palace eight days earlier.

McClaren had been installed as the bookmakers’ favourite to be the Premier League’s next managerial casualty in the wake of his team’s 5-1 loss at Selhurst Park.

And the 54-year-old had admitted in the build-up to the match that he didn’t know how long he would get to prove he was the right man to take United forward.

But McClaren, now 8/1 to be the next to go, brushed off a question about his position after the Liverpool game.

Asked if the result had kept him in a job, McClaren said: “I don’t think it has anything to do with the job.

“It’s about belief. We really believe in this team and these players.

“They’re young, and at times confidence can be knocked and drained easily. You saw that at the beginning when we were a little nervous.

“But we came through that and got stronger, and the second half was great.

“In terms of me personally, it just saves me from banging my head against the wall and wondering what to do the next week.”

McClaren’s side pressed well high up the pitch, and they attempted to attack quickly when they won the ball.

The challenge for McClaren and his players is to replicate the showing against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Sunday – and the following weekend against basement club Aston Villa at St James’s Park.

“It’s kind of saying ‘that’s us – that’s what we are’,” said McClaren. “We’ve been that before – do it today, and do it next week.

McClaren, however, is cautious given the “false starts” which he has already seen this season.

“We’ve had false starts two or three times now,” he said.

“We’ve felt we’ve turned the corner before, and three or four weeks ago we were walking out of Bournemouth with big smiles on our face.

“We thought we’d turned the corner then, but something happened in the international break and we came back a different team.

“We got back to doing what we were doing in the previous six games, and it all started from hard work and carried on from that.

“This team has got talent and ability – we also saw belief and confidence, and I think that grew as the game went on.

“They showed that they’re good players, but they crawled off there because they’re exhausted and that was important.

“When we haven’t got results, we’ve not worked as we should. We know how to win now, we just have to do it week in, week out.”

Liverpool have been revitalised by Klopp.

“It was a huge test for us,” said McClaren. “We’ve just said to the players ‘it’s alright doing it against Liverpool, you’ve got to do it next week and the week after that no matter what the opponent is’.

“We can win football matches if we play like that.”