Tim Krul insists Newcastle United have nothing to fear from their treacherous Autumn schedule – despite matches with four of the top six looming on the horizon.
The Magpies relieved some of the pressure on boss Alan Pardew with a fine win in South Wales before the international break but now take on Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs and Manchester City in quick succession – with the added spice of a trip to Sunderland stuffed in between.
It is hard to see that run as anything other than potentially season-defining for both manager and squad as they continue to battle with inconsistency and the fluctuating fortunes of the players at Pardew’s disposal.
United have not beaten one of the division’s big four since a February defeat of Chelsea, but Krul sees no reason why a team led by the goal-scoring talents of Loic Remy shouldn’t seek to banish that dismal record as the prepare to go toe-to-toe with the Premier League’s heavyweights.
While the talent of the players is not in doubt, their ability to string successive positive performances is – and Krul admits it would have been helpful if they had not broken up for international week directly after the Cardiff win.
Even so, he feels the Bluebirds win created positivity. He said: “It’s going to be a fantastic month. We’ve got a very hard run of games, but now we look forward to those games and go into them with the confidence off the back of a very good away win.
“We have to work for each other every game and we showed that against Cardiff.
“You need the positivity around the place. We’ve had a bit of a hard time of late and rightly so, but we can look on the positive side again and take that into the rest of the season.
“It is frustrating that we now split up and go our separate ways for international week, we would have liked the next game to come quickly.
“Somehow we never follow the right way, we’re always up and down, up and down. We need to be a little bit more consistent and I think we have showed what quality we do have.” United’s strange start to the season has seen the pressure applied to Pardew and while some would argue it is too soon, Krul says that is to be expected.
He also argues that the players have to take some of the responsibility for their poor start to the season.
The Newcastle keeper believes that the results so far this season have been a “wake-up call” to the group.
“There is pressure every week for the manager and us as players,” Krul said.
“We reacted in the right way after the Hull and Everton games. Yes, we didn’t play well in that first half against Everton, but we have to take the responsibility for that, not the manager because it was individual mistakes that cost us that night.
“We have ten points after seven games. We’ve already had a few wake-up calls and we know we can’t take anything for granted in this league. Every team is a hard game, there’s no easy games out there anymore, but we have to keep going and build on what we did second half against Everton and in the Cardiff game.”
Much of the focus this week has been on striker Remy (pictured right), who has been a revelation since joining the Magpies on loan. Krul feels that his form has given United fresh belief.
He said: “Loic’s on fire. I think he would like the next game to come now the way he is playing, and so would we after a very good win. He’s a fantastic player, we saw that when he was at QPR last year and now he’s doing the same thing here, which is score goals. From the word go he’s been great for us.”
Krul also thinks that the importance of the win in South Wales shouldn’t be underestimated. The United stopper feels the club should take “confidence” from the victory.
“It was a massive three points away at Cardiff, it’s not an easy game at all,” he insisted.
“I remember playing them two years ago in pre-season and they are a proper Premier League team.
“Our attitude was magnificent. We created a lot of chances and played really well so I am happy. We scored two fantastic goals through Remy and Cabaye hit the post too.
“The second half you know they are going to put pressure on you with some good substitutions but we dug it out and we can take a lot of confidence from it.”
Remy will have a key role to play for France over the next few days, tonight’s match against Australia treated as a warm-up to Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier with Finland.
Coach Didier Deschamps must decide who to start up front, with Olivier Giroud and Karim Benzema also competing for roles.
While Remy has impressed, Giroud has made a magnificent start to the season for Arsenal while Benzema has not scored for France since June last year.
“The hierarchy is changeable”, Deschamps said. “Loic has found competition and he is in a good phase. He is effective and can play several positions and fully use the depth and quality all on his own.
“He gives us the opportunity to have different attacking options.”