Newcastle United head coach Steve McClaren felt his players battled their way back into form as they secured a much-needed 2-0 Premier League win over Liverpool.
The hosts headed into the clash at St James’ Park on the back of chastening losses to Leicester City and Crystal Palace, with Jurgen Klopp’s rejuvenated Liverpool heavy favourites to make it eight wins from nine in all competitions.
McClaren identified Newcastle as showing a lack of confidence during the early stages but a below-par Liverpool were unable to capitalise and Martin Skrtel’s own goal put them behind when the hosts improved after half-time.
Georgino Wijnaldum made sure of the points in stoppage time having earlier seen Skrtel divert his powerful shot past Simon Mignolet and such work up to the final whistle was exactly what McClaren ordered.
“You have to work and you have to work really hard – crawl back into the dressing room. We have to maintain that,” he told Sky Sports.
“We grew into the game. You could see our lack of confidence at the start. But I thought we deserved to win.
“The players care and there is desire – you saw that today. What we’ve been through they will learn from that.
“We said at half-time, even the supporters are gradually growing into the game.
“There’s always a plan, when you lose the plan goes wrong. We talked about the work-rate, we kept compact and when you keep your discipline you get results.”
McClaren’s team remain in the relegation zone on goal difference after their third league win of the campaign.
The former England boss is refusing to suggest that they have turned the corner, having been burned by false dawns already this season.
“We’ve come to this position about three times when you think the penny has dropped,” he added.
“And again you’d like to say this is the beginning. For 24 hours we will enjoy it and get back to work.”