Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren is refusing to look too far ahead as he targets a third successive Barclays Premier League victory for the first time in his fledgling reign.
The Magpies have recovered from back-to-back defeats by Leicester and Crystal Palace to beat Liverpool and Tottenham in impressive style to ease, if not end, their relegation fears.
However, having seen his players drag themselves out of the bottom three and into the reaches of lower mid-table, McClaren knows this is no time to relax with Villa heading to St James’ Park in even more dire trouble.
Asked where he would like to be at the end of the festive programme, he replied: “I’m not even thinking that far ahead.
“We are thinking of the next game and Aston Villa. It’s an opportunity and a challenge, one that we will probably get three or four times over the season, this is an opportunity to kick on.
“Can we take it? Are we ready to do it? Are we ready to win three games in the Premier League in a row, which is a huge, huge ask for any team.
“Believe you me, I have watched Villa in three or four games now and they have got very good players. How they are only on six points, I don’t know, but I have seen them play very, very well.”
Newcastle’s mini-revival came after a few home truths were voiced around the training ground after humiliating defeats by the Foxes and Palace. Keeper Rob Elliot also issued a half-time rallying cry at Spurs on Sunday which encouraged his team-mates to overturn a deficit to win for the first time in a year.
McClaren said: “You can be analytical in a serene way, and sometimes you have to create conflict and there was a bit of conflict.
“But the key thing is we are consistent in our messages. When we win, when we draw, when we lose, we analyse it, we review it, we said what we have done right and wrong and we try to put it right for the next game.
“The process was just the same, probably just a little bit more vocal than normal.”