Kevin Nolan

By Anthony Marshall

 

Kevin Nolan knows just how important United's remaining home fixtures are, but the skipper is expecting anything but an easy ride at St. James' Park.

Although current Premier League leaders Manchester United are still to make a trip to the north-east, Newcastle also have fixtures against strugglers Wolves, West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham to come.

Most Magpies fans will be expecting a maximum nine points from the latter three of those games, and the squad are no different.

But Nolan is well aware that it will be a tough task, given the stifling tactics opponents use when they come to St. James' Park.

"Teams can come here, put ten men behind the ball and then just hit you on the break," explained the free-scoring midfielder.

"We are under a bit of pressure to make the game entertaining, being the home side.

"They have a section of one or two thousand fans up in the top corner, and you never hear them at St. James' Park.

"So it's much easier for them to just come here and put in a solid performance and not much more, than it is for us going to a lot of their places.

"But we've got to be able to handle that pressure, live with that expectation, and it's something we have to find the right formula to in order to make sure that we start winning games more often than not at St. James'.

"And when we aren't winning them then we have to make sure we're not losing them."

Newcastle's home form has been slightly disappointing this term, with reversals against the likes of Blackpool, Everton, Stoke and Blackburn.

And Nolan wants next season to be a totally different story - turning St. James' Park into a place to be feared.

"Last year we had such a fantastic home record, but people love coming to this stadium, there's no doubt about that," said the 28-year-old.

"We need to try and make this place into a fortress, and at this moment in time we just haven't found the right balance.

"We've had some great performances, some half-decent performances, and then some very poor performances.

"Next year we hope we are going to be a bit more consistent in our home form, and it's something that will have to be assessed once we make sure we remain in the Premier League.

"We have to make sure it is put right next season."