Eddie Howe stated that keeping Newcastle in the Premier League would be one of his proudest achievements.
The Magpies appeared to be in serious trouble heading into the new year, having just managed one win all season and facing relegation to the Championship for the third time in 13 seasons.
“It would be right up there, right up there,” said Howe, when asked where this season listed in his career achievements. “I’ve been so focused week on week and the job’s not done yet. I can’t take myself there in terms of looking back and reflecting. It’s difficult in this moment to do that.
“I’m very much in the moment and focusing on the next game knowing that we’re still in the middle of the battle that we have ahead.
“You may be better asking me if – and hopefully when – we achieve the target.
“Leeds was a turning point for us. We went to Saudi Arabia after that, which was a brilliant trip for the group and we came back in a much better place, united and ready to start the fight to stay in the division. That was a massive, massive result for us that led to the good run of form since.”
Newcastle would win their sixth consecutive Premier League game at home for the first time since April 2004 under Sir Bobby Robson if they beat Crystal Palace.
“To do that would be an incredible thing for us,” said Howe. “To do anything related to the name Sir Bobby Robson and to try to achieve one of his milestones would be brilliant for us.
“Playing at home, as we’ve always said, is such a unique thing here. It’s such a privilege to play in the stadium and the atmosphere the supporters have created has been fantastic.”
“We want to score more goals,” said Howe, whose team defeated Leicester City at St James’ Park on Sunday thanks to an injury-time diving header from Brazilian midfielder Guimaraes.
“I think our style evolves that way rather than us trying to find it. We want to win and entertain and play in the style everyone wants. We are not there yet.
“We are in the early stages of building. We want the same intensity and desire to win, plus more control and to express ourselves with the ball.”