DANNY Guthrie has warned Newcastle United would be making a terrible mistake to assume they are already safe from relegation as they prepare for the arrival of Fulham this weekend.
United’s tremendous 3-1 win over Middlesbrough on Monday night lifted them out of the bottom three for the first time in more than a month, but they still have plenty to worry about this season.
Guthrie argued the Magpies need to beat Fulham on Saturday and hope Hull City lose at Bolton to be certain of their top-flight survival, and the midfielder is wary of letting the euphoria of a first home win since December distract them.
“It was the most important result of my career,” said Guthrie, whose delivery from set-pieces was a constant threat against Middlesbrough on his return to the starting line up in place of the suspended Joey Barton.
“It was a big win, but we can’t get too carried away because we have another massive game against Fulham to concentrate on now. We will enjoy the moment because we haven’t had much to celebrate this season, but then it’s back to business.
“The biggest mistake we could make now is to think we are already safe because we probably have just as big a game against Fulham on Saturday. We haven’t achieved anything yet.
“It’s great to finally get that winning feeling because it’s been a long time, and hopefully we can go out and win our remaining two games, but the first thing is to win on Saturday and hopefully that will be enough to make sure we are safe.
“It was a great feeling in the dressing room after the game. There were some great performances out there and it’s fantastic to get the win which lifts us out of the bottom three, because we’ve been in there for too long. Now it’s about staying out.”
Although Alan Shearer’s first win as manager unleashed something special at St James’s Park on Monday, instantly transforming the atmosphere on Tyneside, Guthrie acknowledged it was just one good result at the end of a dismal run of results which led Newcastle to the
relegation precipice. But, having finally regained that winning feeling, Guthrie hopes Newcastle can put a dreadful season behind them and start to plan for a better future with Shearer at the helm.
He explained: “We have never stopped believing, but it has been extremely tough at times. Some of the lads look at the table, others try and ignore it, but as long as it was possible to get out of it we believed we could.
“On and off the pitch it has been a season to forget. If we can stay up it will have been a good season I suppose, but at the same time we also know that isn’t good enough for a club like this.
“The older players have tried to help the younger ones, but at the end of the day there isn’t much they can do because it’s just as hard for them when you’re going so long without a win.
“They have to go out there and play as well, but I think they have shown the way with their performance the other night, the likes of Nicky Butt, Kevin Nolan and Mark Viduka.
“It does grind you down, I think there were more nerves with each game that went by, but we were strong and got the win we needed.
“This does feel as though it is the start of something and the end of a bad period for the club. When we came off the pitch, the reaction of the fans was amazing.
“But that is all it is, a start. We have to go out there again and put in just as good a performance against Fulham.
“The fans have been brilliant, I’m just pleased we have finally given them something to celebrate.”
One of Newcastle’s goalscorers on Monday, Peter Løvenkrands, is hoping his goals earn him a new contract.
The Danish striker’s signing was widely derided when he joined as a free agent in January, but the goal against Middlesbrough was his third in ten league games.
“It is a great club to be at, and I hope we stay up and I can be a part of that,” said the 29-year-old, whose contract expires in the summer.
“But you never know what will happen in the world of football – if they wish to keep me, or whatever will happen.”
Meanwhile, Dutch 1974 World Cup finalist Wim van Hanegem claims to have been contacted “several months ago” by Newcastle about the possibility of becoming their manager.
In a radio interview yesterday the 65-year-old former Feyenoord, Sparta Rotterdam and Utrecht coach was vague about the timeline of events, but said he had been approached by the Magpies and play-off finalists Burnley.
Van Hanegem was sacked by Utrecht in the run-up to Christmas. Newcastle appointed Joe Kinnear in October and replaced him with Alan Shearer in April. Both were temporary appointments.