“Last year, I think the club needed that, to be fair – to drop down a league and get that spine back to this football club. It was a good time, last year. We had a lot of fun in the team and we just tried to continue that team spirit over the summer. We’re always chatting on the WhatsApp group and doing dinners and things like that. There’s a great team spirit.
“Everyone in this squad works for each other – you’ll run that extra 10 yards for your team-mate, because we’ve got such a good bond. I think that started since Rafa came into the fold. He bought players last year that knew that league and had that team spirit and togetherness. I think that’s what got us promoted. We’ve got to keep maintaining that.
“It’s just good to know – no disrespect to teams in the Championship – that you’ve got teams like Man United and Man City, and the Liverpools, Arsenals and Chelseas, coming to St James’ Park to play football. That’s the way this club’s been for so many years. I think last year was more of a case of trying to get the job done as quick as possible so we could build for this season. There’s no bigger game than Man United away at Old Trafford, after all.
“That’s the big difference between the Championship and the Premier League. You make one mistake, and you’re punished for it. Whereas in the Championship, you can probably get away with it three or four times. In this league, there’s no getting away with it, so it’s just a matter of trying to rectify those mistakes and being more clinical in front of goal. I think people should remember how well we’ve actually done this season. We’re sitting in 11th place and we’re a newly-promoted team. There’s a lot of expectation, which comes with this football club, but I think we’ve done very well so far to be five points clear of the relegation zone.
“Obviously, we’ve got a difficult Christmas period coming up, but I’m sure that we’ll be all right. I think we’ve started well enough to make sure we stay up in this league.”