AS Newcastle United’s season drifts to an inevitable conclusion, Kevin Nolan has instructed his players to do everything they can to boost the club’s bank balance.
A 1-1 draw at Blackpool further consolidated the Magpies’ Premier League status on Saturday. Europe is beyond reach, but with Newcastle continuing to pick up points while others below them do not, so it seems is the Championship.
With around £800,000 on offer for each position up the table they finish, there is plenty of financial incentive for ninth-placed United in their final four matches of the season.
While Newcastle’s hierarchy are jittery about players demanding new signings, they clearly share manager Alan Pardew’s desire for greater squad depth.
The better Newcastle’s league position, the greater the chances of adding to the £35m transfer pot granted after the sale of Andy Carroll to Liverpool.
It appeared to come into Nolan’s thinking when asked if the club had secured survival by reaching 41 points.
“Probably, probably, but we’re not resting here,” he said.
“We want to get to as many points as we can. The aim is to get above the person who is above us.
“That’s always been our goal. We’ve never talked about relegation, we’ve never talked about Europe.
“We’ve tried to keep our focus mainly on keeping in that top ten. Every time we’ve dropped out of it we seem to have put a run together.
“We want to finish high and get as much money back for the club so they can spend it in the summer.” Nolan felt fatigue played a part as Newcastle failed to hit the heights they did in Tuesday’s 0-0 draw with Manchester United, but praised the performance of referee Martin Atkinson, who rejected three Blackpool penalty appeals.
“After going 1-0 up I thought we were quite steady and then we decided to do things we don’t normally do and we probably lifted them more than we should,” the captain reflected.
“But we had a massive game in midweek when the lads had put in a great effort against the top team in the league and got a result. That probably showed in our performance at Blackpool. It would have been nice to go there fresh but the players who played have played the majority of the games.
“I was the only change and it would have been nice if we could have made three or four.
“We had a lot of young lads on the bench.
“None of them were penalties. No chance.
“I gave Martin a bit of stick throughout the game but I thought he handled the game and their crowd really well because sometimes it’s intense.
“Although there’s only 16,000 they’re right on top of you, moaning for everything because they’re scrapping for their lives.
“I’m still a bit iffy about the (Blackpool) goal, I don’t think it was one, but hopefully between now and the end of the season we’ll get a nice decision in our favour to even that out.”
Dudley Campbell equalised Peter Løvenkrands’ opener.
Campbell’s strike looked to have crossed the line before José Enrique’s intervention, though television replays were inconclusive.
Nolan failed to complete the match, his first since a two-match suspension for 10 bookings, but it seems unlikely the boyhood Liverpool fan will miss Sunday’s televised trip to Anfield.
“It was horrible, to be honest,” the former Bolton Wanderers player said of his enforced break. “I hate missing games.
“I’ve just been there for the lads and tried to give them as much support as I can.
“You feel it when you come back after time away.
“I had a little bit of a niggle in my groin all week and I was a bit fatigued at the end.
“It (Nolan’s substitution) was more precautionary, to get someone on who can run around a bit faster than me.”