Steven Taylor says Newcastle deserve top flight status

08 May 2011 05:41
ShareToon Army: Steven Taylor believes Newcastle are back where they belong

Steven Taylor is confident Newcastle have returned to their rightful place after his goal confirmed their Barclays Premier League status.

The 25-year-old Greenwich-born, but Geordie-raised defender powered home a 43rd-minute header which put the Magpies 2-0 ahead over Birmingham. The Magpies went on to win 2-1 and ease into 10th place on 44 points and, more importantly, safety from relegation.

Retaining their place in the top flight was the Tyneside club's only focus in the immediate aftermath of their promotion from the Championship last summer, and with a trip to Chelsea before their final day clash with West Brom at St James' Park to come, a more than creditable top-10 finish remains a possibility.

It was all a far cry from the day at Aston Villa almost two years ago when the unthinkable happened and the Magpies slipped out of the Premier League.

Taylor, who was handed a rare start in place of the injured Mike Williamson, said: 'This is where the football club should be. That's what it feels like when you are a professional footballer. That's what it is all about.

'You play in big stadiums and the fans, the atmosphere here, that's what it is all about. Three points and a goal - I think you could tell by the celebration how happy I was, and for us to get safety was very important.'

Taylor played in that 1-0 final day defeat at Villa which proved so costly, and unlike many of the club's bigger names, opted to remain on Tyneside and play his part in the fightback.

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That job started under Chris Hughton, whose role in what has happened this season should not be underestimated despite his untimely departure in December, and was completed with Alan Pardew at the helm.

But for all the significance of what has been achieved on the pitch, what has happened off it is of equal importance.

Owner Mike Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias embarked upon a two-year plan after relegation which they hoped would bring financial stability to a club which has enjoyed precious little certainty in recent times, and survival has placed it on its firmest footing for some time.

Reinvest: Newcastle could have a busy summer spending the ?35m raised by selling Andy Carroll

The club's hierarchy has been plotting the way forward for some time and can now begin their preparations for the new campaign in earnest armed with the ?35million they received from Liverpool in January in return for Andy Carroll.

They can do so as a result of a victory over Birmingham which would have been far more comprehensive had it not been for City keeper Ben Foster, who turned in a virtuoso display in the wake of Liam Ridgewell's 35th-minute dismissal for handball.

Until that point, there had been little between the sides, but when the full-back nudged the ball away from Kevin Nolan with his arm in the midst of a desperate goalmouth scramble, the door was pushed ajar and Newcastle burst through it.

Ridgewell's premature departure was compounded by Shola Ameobi's assured penalty, and when Taylor dispatched Joey Barton's corner, the game looked to be over.

The defender said: 'I was telling a few people before the game, "I am going to get a goal today". I couldn't believe it, if I am honest. It was a great feeling. I remember just heading the ball and seeing it in the back of the net and going wild. It just meant so much.'

Former Magpie Lee Bowyer capitalised on an error by Fabricio Coloccini to pull a goal back on the stroke of half-time, but only Foster stood between the Magpies and a comfortable victory after the break.

Concern: Birmingham are now just three points off the drop zone

Defeat left the Carling Cup winners just three points clear of the drop zone heading into next Sunday's home clash with Fulham, but manager Alex McLeish remains confident they will get themselves out of trouble.

He said: 'The battle goes on. We are a team who have had to battle from the very first game, and I am sure we will be battling to the very last.

'We have had an horrendous catalogue of injuries - I know a lot of teams are the same, so I am not using it as an excuse, but we have lost a few strikers and it has cost us, especially with one who was in top form [Nikola Zigic] when he went out injured.

'But the players who have got us to this stage since with seven points out of nine at home deserve an awful lot of credit. They have just got to make that final push.' 

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Source: Daily_Mail