The hard work paid off, says Ciaran
Written by Rory Mitchinson
Ciaran Clark felt that a week’s worth of hard work on the training field paid off as Newcastle United held Liverpool to a 1-1 draw at St. James’ Park.
The Magpies, beaten by Brighton & Hove Albion in their last outing, trailed to Philippe Coutinho’s rasping effort for the Reds, only to quickly restore parity through Joselu, who netted for the first time since August.
Rafa Benítez’s side saw little of the ball after the break, but Liverpool – save for a chance apiece for Daniel Sturridge and Mohamed Salah – failed to create anything clear-cut.
And Clark – one of just a handful of players to start in every Premier League fixture for Newcastle this season – paid tribute to Benítez after the game, praising the Spaniard for engineering a plan to frustrate his former employers.
“It was a deserved point. We knew it was going to be a tough game going into it, but we did our work in the week leading up to it, we had a game-plan and we tried to stick to it as much as we could,” he told nufc.co.uk. “The whole ground were singing the manager’s name. The players listened to him during the week – he looks into teams, and he knows what their strengths and weaknesses are. He’s worked on it all week with us in training, and he’s got it spot on.
“We felt we were quite comfortable. We got everyone back behind the ball, everyone worked hard, and that started from the front all the way to the back. I can’t remember them having too many chances – obviously, there was one where it was my fault, when I left Robbie (Elliot) in the lurch a little bit, but he managed to pull off a good save. Apart from that, there weren’t too many. There wasn’t a lot Robbie could do about the goal – it was a great strike, and that’s the quality they have. At the time it was obviously a bit disappointing because we knew it was going to be a battle to get back in, but it was a great ball from Jonjo into Jos, and it was nice to see the ball go in the back of the net.”
Up next for Clark is a double-header with the Republic of Ireland, before United return to action against Southampton in a fortnight’s time.
The Magpies currently sit in the top half of the table after picking up ten points from a possible 21, but Clark insists they will not be resting on their laurels come the end of the international break.
“Starting the season losing the first two, we’ve managed to turn it round really well,” he said. “We’re in a really good position at the moment but we don’t want to stop there – we want to keep going and keep working hard.
“We knew it was going to be a tough season for us with all of the quality in the Premier League, but we wanted to be playing against the best teams and the best players. That’s what we’ve come up against today. It was a tough game but we managed to hold our own out there. We maybe got a bit of luck, but it was all deserved.”
"We knew it was going to be a tough game going into it, but we did our work in the week leading up to it, we had a game-plan and we tried to stick to it as much as we could."