Mike Williamson grateful for imposing fixture
MIKE Williamson believes the fixture list has been kind to Newcastle United by serving up a game they can not take lightly after their heroics against Barnsley.
A 6-1 home win and favourable results elsewhere put the Magpies eight points clear at the top of the Championship with a game in hand on second- placed Nottingham Forest. It was enough for some to crown them as champions-in-waiting, but centre-back Williamson (left) thinks the prospect of a Tees-Tyne derby in Middlesbrough should guarantee no loss of focus.
"It’s always nice to enjoy days like Saturday but our next game’s Middlesbrough away and that’s the one we don’t want to lose," was the 26-year- old’s reaction to the Barnsley win.
"It’s going to be one of the toughest tests of the season so the boys are just focusing on that one."
United’s players must realise promotion is theirs to lose – they are a further point ahead of West Bromwich Albion in third – but, like manager Chris Hughton, they are anxious not to give any impression of complacency.
"When we’re actually mathematically promoted we can talk about it but at the minute the job’s not done and we know
how easy it is to get sucked back in (to the chasing pack)," he added.
"It’s about not getting complacent and taking nothing for granted."
A trip to the Riverside might not be the derby for Newcastle supporters, but with Sunderland in the division above, it is the nearest they will get this season.
Having started the season as credible title contenders under Gareth Southgate, Boro are showing signs of coming to terms with his replacement Gordon Strachan’s style of play – particularly at home, where they are unbeaten in the league in 2010.