By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa has admitted that Newcastle felt the pressure at times during the second half of last season but believes the players will be able to express themselves more freely next term.
United's poor form prior to the January arrival of the likes of Yanga-Mbiwa, Yoan Gouffran, Mathieu Debuchy, Moussa Sissoko and Massadio Haidara meant that the new boys were plunged straight into a relegation battle.
With so much at stake, the Magpies simply had to scrap for the necessary points while also progressing to the quarter-finals of the Europa League, but when top flight safety was finally assured with victory at Queens Park Rangers in May the relief was tangible.
Suddenly, the Club's base in Benton was a more relaxed place to be and former Montpellier skipper Yanga-Mbiwa is looking forward to keeping that feel-good factor going next term and seeing where it takes Alan Pardew's men.
"It was tough and pretty complicated at times but the job was done - we stayed in the Premier League, which is what we set out to do when we arrived in January," the 24-year-old told nufc.co.uk as he looked back on his first six months in England.
"Newcastle United is a massive club which deserves to be playing Premier League football. It was a very stressful situation and we owed it to ourselves to go out there and do really well.
"What we were doing for the last few months was playing with quite a lot of pressure on our shoulders, but as soon as we beat QPR and secured our safety, things were much better.
"Even in training sessions, people were enjoying themselves because the weight was off our shoulders. It was a very tough season but we will go out next year and aim to hit the ground running and do a much better job."
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