NEWCASTLE United defender Mike Williamson has kicked off the countdown to the 146th Tyne-Wear derby by admitting that defeat is unthinkable in a game that has the potential to shape the club’s season.
It has been difficult to decipher too much from United’s start to the season, but Sunday’s disappointing defeat to Manchester United is far from the perfect preparation for a crucial derby date.
The Magpies’ fine midweek victory over Bordeaux seemed to suggest they had found some rhythm, but the weekend loss revealed issues that need to be addressed over the international break.
Williamson has pledged that Newcastle will bounce back strongly against a Sunderland side who are also in mid-table after a mixed start. “We need to move on quickly because the next game has the potential to shape our season – of course it does. It’s been a bit stop-start so far, so this is a massive opportunity for us,” he told The Journal.
“Our target is to go there and get three points and it could well be a springboard for us. We’ve got the players and the squad to go there and win it.
“The next two weeks will all be about that. We’ve got to look forward, physically and mentally, to going there and winning.
“This is a massive game. The build-up starts here – the fans are talking about it, the media are already hyping it up and rightly so, it’s a massive game that means more than three points.
“I think the lads – the majority of us – have played in them and won in them. We know what they’re all about and we’ll be ready.”
Williamson and the rest of the United back four have come under scrutiny following Sunday’s 3-0 reverse, with two goals smuggled from set pieces.
It was the nadir of a disappointing defensive display that did little to enhance the feeling that Newcastle are capable of coping if they lose their two frontline defenders Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini. But Williamson has issued a robust counter-argument to the club’s critics, arguing that United’s defence is doing little different from last season and they just need a bit of luck.
He said: “As a defence we’re working just as hard as we did last season, we’re doing the same things but maybe we’re not getting the rub of the green.
“It’s just the fact that we need to get a bit more consistency. We need to put everything together like we did against Bordeaux on Thursday and cut out the errors that contributed yesterday. I don’t think there’s a big problem there.”
While Williamson is adamant the defence can cope, he admits they let themselves down against Manchester United.
“To lose two goals to set plays is disappointing,” the central defender said.
“When you look at the team sheet and you think of all of the different ways they’ve got of scoring goals and the talent they’ve got in the squad you don’t really think of set plays but that’s what they’ve done today. Myself and the lads are disappointed. It’s not really good enough.”
Both Coloccini – who has been left out of Argentina’s squad on account of his fitness issues – and Taylor look set to return from injuries in time for the Stadium of Light clash in a couple of weeks but there is less certainty about Tim Krul, whose recovery from an elbow problem is proving laborious.
Williamson admits that the lack of consistency in selection is hurting their attempts to build a rapport.
“Stability is the key,” he said. “You want a settled XI and you want a back four that are working together but it’s a squad game and we’ve had lots of games to contend with.
“The players that have come in have done very well and that’s why it was so much more disappointing on Sunday.
“We genuinely believed that we could win the game, we believed that we could keep them out.”
For the latest local news straight to your Twitter, Facebook feed or e-mail inbox.
Is there something happening in your area you would like us to report on?
Interested in advertising? Please call 0191 201 6451 or click here
A key part of the region's business community The Journal has more ABC1 readers than any other quality regional morning newspaper on sale in the area.
The Journal has 99,273 average issue readers which increases to 209,957 weekly readers.
The average time spent reading The Journal is 33 minutes, which shows the length of time readers are engaging with editorial and advertising content.
23,291* copies of The Journal are sold on average each day, providing advertisers with extensive coverage of the region.
*ABC The Journal 97% Paid Mon - Sat, 1/10/2012 JICREG
Unique Users: 396,000
Page Impressions: 1,200,000
Audience figures from Omniture, monthly average (Jan-Jun 2014).
More than 1 in 3 Journal users have clicked through to an online advertisement, demonstrating that our users are responsive and receptive to Internet advertising messages.
TheJournal.co.uk reaches an internet-savvy audience, with 84% of users having purchased products or services online in the past 12 months.
Download our rate cards for all the prices of our print and digital products.
Click here to complete our advertising enquiry form.
Editor, The Journal
Brian was appointed Editor of The Journal in December 2003, joining from Trinity Mirror's Liverpool base where he was Editorial Development Manager for the company's regional titles. He has also held senior positions at the Daily Record and the Evening Express, Aberdeen, as well as being a former Editor of the Lincolnshire Echo.