Newcastle United hauled themselves out of the Premier League bottom three with a 2-1 victory over West Ham that left Steve McClaren to praise the mental fortitude of his players in not allowing any nerves to creep in late on.
Ayoze Perez and Georginio Wijnaldum scored early goals at St James’ Park to put Newcastle in control before Nikica Jelavic got West Ham back in the game.
A first league win in a month lifted Newcastle up to 17th, two points outside the relegation places, with leapfrogged Swansea City hosting Watford on Monday.
“We never got nervous, we kept our composure,” said Newcastle head coach McClaren after his side ended a five-match winless league run.
He told Sky Sports: “It shouldn’t have been close. We had a great first half, 2-0 up after 25 minutes, it could have been more. Even in the second half, we gifted them a goal.
“We said at half-time, we need a third, we definitely need a third just to settle it down and see the game through.
“It didn’t come, but we defended well and saw the game through – a good performance. It’s been a tough week, but we’ve ended it well.”
McClaren praised Jonjo Shelvey’s performance after the debutant was involved in both Newcastle goals.
“I thought Jonjo showed us his quality,” he said. “We’ve got good players around him and he’ll get better and better. I thought his performance was very good.”
Shelvey caught Enner Valencia in a first-half incident, but McClaren insisted the clash was “shoulder to shoulder”.
He said: “It’s normal, it’s football, it’s a contact sport.”