Newcastle United head coach Steve McClaren is refusing to consider mere Barclays Premier League survival as success this season.
The Magpies remain inside the relegation zone despite Sunday’s much-needed 2-0 victory over Liverpool, and head for Tottenham this weekend knowing there is still much work to be done before they can breathe a little more easily.
However, McClaren, who was charged with the task of re-establishing the club as top-half regulars and potential cup winners when he took the job during the summer, is not prepared to settle for 17th place and survival in his job.
He said: “No, I think this team is capable of so much more, that’s the frustrating thing. A lot of other teams will feel the same and they won’t be thinking of fourth bottom.
“That’s not our mindset, we’re not thinking of that. I haven’t even thought about where we’d like to finish.
“In the Premier League, you can think, ‘We’re okay’ – Swansea are an example of that, starting well and being up there and then you lose a couple and you’re in a struggle. That carries on through the season.
“Then there is massive pressure to get that result and you can get sucked in.”
McClaren went into the Liverpool fixture amid speculation that he had two games to save his job, but he insists the sack never crossed his mind as he completed preparations.
He said: “Never. How we performed in the last two games was more worrying than my position – I can’t control that and do anything about that.
“I just need to get this team winning. My total focus was on, ‘What the hell can we do to get a result on Sunday?’.”
Newcastle need several more similar results if they are to ease their relegation fears, but while McClaren admits the league table currently makes for far from pleasant reading, it will take time.
He said: “We are where we are and we have to fight and scrap to get out of it and climb the league.
‘We’re not halfway through yet. We keep getting results that buoy us, but we’re not kicking on from that. We need to do that to show we can climb the league.
“We’re not out of the woods yet. It’s going to be very competitive down there. We’re thinking of how to get out of it and how to produce more consistent performances.”