"We've had to work really hard to do what we've done," says Dummett after safety secured
Written by Dan King
Paul Dummett says Newcastle United's players, supporters and manager deserve credit after the Magpies secured Premier League safety over the Easter weekend.
Saturday's 3-1 win over Southampton, together with Cardiff's defeat to Liverpool on Sunday, guaranteed survival for Rafa Benítez's side with three fixtures remaining.
And Dummett believes that is no mean feat - particularly after a nightmare start to the campaign which saw United fail to record a win in their opening ten games.
Before November's 1-0 victory over Watford, Newcastle had just three points on the board, although they did face five of the previous season's top six - Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United - during that sequence.
The Magpies' form since then has been impressive, though, with Saturday's victory their 11th of the campaign, and Dummett told nufc.co.uk: "To know that we're mathematically safe in the Premier League is obviously a relief for everyone.
"At the start of the season we had a lot of doubters - people saying we'd get relegated and stuff - so to do it with a few games to spare, and following a really good win on Saturday, means everyone's pleased. Now our focus is to try and finish as high as we can in the league table.
"We've had to work really hard to do what we've done. The start we had, as soon as the fixture list came out I think everyone looked at that and realised how tough it was.
"It could have been so different at the same time, because the second game of the season (at Cardiff) we missed a last minute penalty and it could have been totally different in how the season started. But it was a tough task after the first ten games, where we hadn't won a game.
"Mentally it's tough on the confidence so we've had to work hard together as a team to make sure we recovered. With the games that we've won, we've done really well and with three games to spare, we're mathematically safe so our focus now is to win a few more and finish in a good position in the table."
Dummett added: "All the players deserve praise, and so do the fans for sticking with us in the tough times, and the manager for what he's done.
"The manager brings that experience with him from where he's been in his career and whether you win or get beat, he's always the same really; he doesn't get too excited when you've won a game and when you get beat, he doesn't get too down.
"He always tells us that we need to forget about the game; obviously look at a few things we've done and try to improve on those things, and don't let those mistakes happen again, but he knows we've got another game in a few days to put things right.
"He's stayed calm throughout the season, even those times we were struggling a bit. He's always stated to us if we play with anxiety it'll be harder to win games so we've tried to listen to his advice and put it into practise, and it's paid off."
United's league record - wins, draws, losses, goals scored and goals conceded - is now identical to the same stage last term, when they finished tenth, and Dummett says their aim is now to ensure that they beat last season's points total of 44.
"As a player you want to get as many points as you can in the league and try and get as high as you can in the league," said the 27-year-old. "Whatever anyone has in their head, it's about pride in yourself and the team and everyone wants to do well.
"Whether you're going to be here next season or not, it doesn't really matter - every player has their personal pride. As a team, we have the three games; we could win all three, we could lose all three, but we'll be trying our best to get as many points as we can to finish in a strong position, and hopefully we can beat last season's tally with the points we can get."