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Going up?

03 Apr 2010 09:31:03

Going up?

Victory today could clinch promotion, but it's only the start, says Nolan. NEWCASTLE UNITED'S fans have been told that promotion will be just the start of a new era at St James' Park, with Kevin Nolan claiming lessons have been learned from costly mistakes made during the last 17 years. A victory at Peterborough United today coupled with a defeat for Nottingham Forest at Bristol City would see the Magpies clinch automatic promotion from the Championship at the first attempt. It is a situation few predicted 12 months after Newcastle struggled to overcome the threat of relegation before embarking on a summer of turmoil. The players, backroom staff and supporters did not know in which direction the club would head. Nolan, who arrived halfway through last season from Bolton, went through a string of emotions. There were times during what was a difficult period that he felt he would be leaving just months after costing the club £4m. Every member of staff at St James' Park felt the same, and the 27-year-old suggested years of over-spending and mismanagement was what led to the depressing state of affairs that had been on the horizon for some time. However, having formed part of a revitalised team that has prevented Newcastle dropping further down the football ladder, Nolan now expects fortunes to take a turn for the better. We've done well so far, we've played 39 games, got seven to go, but this is only the beginning, said Nolan. This is only the beginning of Newcastle United and a new revolution, a new start for us. Mistakes have been made. You can look back to when the club last went up in 1993 and mistakes were made from then until 2009. Some of them were major, major mistakes, whether it was transfers or whatever. Even the players were saying it was like being in EastEnders. What we've tried to do is close ranks and bring it back to being a football club. It's got the fanbase, it's got the stadium and it needed a team that was going to be loyal to the club and the fans, loyal to themselves. What we've found this year is that the fans have really taken to the fact they see 11 lads on the pitch every week who are loyal to each other and to them. They want to do well for this club. We're not getting carried away by what we've done this season because it's only the beginning. Nolan put much of Newcastle's impressive season in the second tier of English football down to the support of the Tyneside supporters. Not even Manchester United, Liverpool or Chelsea would get 45,000 every week in the Championship, he said. But he is well aware of how things could have turned out, having been in the Newcastle team last July that went to Brisbane Road for a pre-season friendly and lost 6-1 to Leyton Orient. In a strange way, that result proved the turning point. Getting tonked 6-1 was obviously major news, he said. Inside the camp it wasn't as big as it was made out to be. But what we said was that we have to get away from that. It was a case of closing ranks. It was a shambles. It showed who wanted to be here and who didn't and what you've got now is a squad of players who train hard, work hard and play hard and who want to get this football club back to where we think it belongs. Like the rest of the squad, Nolan was keen to highlight the enormous work manager Chris Hughton has put in since relegation. Fans might, however, be surprised to hear him speaking so positively about owner Mike Ashley. Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias have been around here quite a lot, he said. When you think of the likes of Portsmouth and all the clubs that are in trouble, because of the situation we are in and what happened last season, what he (Ashley) has done has been fantastic for the club. He has been open and honest with us as players. It's something that kept us together and we know what he wanted, we demanded what we wanted, he has given us it and we said if you give us it, we will give you what you want. You know, we have grown mutual respect and hopefully we can give the final piece of the jigsaw in the next few weeks. That would be nice because Mike (Ashley) wants to see Newcastle succeed just as much as anyone does in the team or any supporter. Nolan still has three-and-ahalf years remaining on his contract and is keen to stay around for the remainder of that deal in the hope of becoming a Geordie hero. I could have left, but I just wanted to come and enjoy the fact that 50,000 watch you every week, said Nolan, crowned the Championship's player of the year two weeks ago after scoring 12 times from midfield. I wanted to enjoy the fact, hopefully, I could make a name for myself so that in ten years time I could come back and the people on the door can shake my hand, put me in the directors' box, free tickets, and the fans still want my autograph. Hopefullythe relationship between players and fans is back.


Northern_Echo

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