Newcastle United manager John Carver revealed both he and his players had been waiting all week to move on from their 5-0 English Premier League defeat at Manchester City last weekend.
The Magpies edged past relegation-threatened Aston Villa at St James’ Park on Saturday in the league, with Papiss Cisse 37th-minute strike ultimately settling the three points for the hosts.
The result, and the atmosphere on Tyneside, is of stark contrast to the mood which surrounded the club a week ago when the champions run riot at the Etihad, and Carver admitted he was pleased to end a difficult week with a win.
“It’s been a long week, and after last weekend this weekend couldn’t come soon enough,” he told Sky Sports.
“Like everybody, the players and I were a little bit nervous before today’s game, and rightly so because the expectancy of this crowd is massive and you’ve got to produce the goods.”
“When you’ve come off the back of a five-goal drubbing, confidence is usually low but we have a good spirit in there. I know it was not pretty and I know it was not breath-taking but it was a win and that’s the most important thing. The result was more important than the performance today, I said that to the players before the game.”
“It was two nervous sides, we knew what type of game it was going to be, it wasn’t going to be pretty. It was a nice feeling getting the goal just before half time because it obviously changes your team talk. We came out for the second half and create a few chances.”
“I took a little bit of a gamble in the first half playing two wingers and two striker, it would leave us open and it did in the first half. We said before the game, let’s get the ball in the box and that’s why we played with two wingers because Papiss is sure to put it in the net and he did thankfully.”
“We didn’t put enough crosses in the box in the first half and the ones we did put in behind them caused them a problem. So we need to do a bit more work on that. But getting that before half time was a godsend.”
Saturday’s one-goal win over Villa was only Newcastle’s second clean sheet in their last 17 games in all competitions, and Carver was particularly pleased to see his efforts on the training ground being carried into matches.
“The biggest things that pleased me today is that we’ve kept a clean sheet and we haven’t done that in a long time,” he added.
“The way, in particular, [Fabricio] Coloccini defended towards the end to squeeze the box and to catch them offside was pleasing because we worked on that. There were a lot of pleasing things.”
“Let’s not forget that we lost Jack Colback, who’s been massive for us this season, and we’ve got a long list of people who are unavailable. I’ve never made it an excuse and I’m not going to, but we’ve dug in their today and fought every inch of the way to get the result.”