“You saw in the Wolves game when we needed to win, we got a big three points. When the pressure’s on, we’ve got a lot of players who react well.
“Teams like Manchester United have the ability when they don’t play well to get a win and that’s the key for us finishing seventh, eighth, ninth.
“As far as the lads are concerned, this is a massive game for us, so it shouldn’t be too hard to focus. Blackpool are desperate for the points and we know what’s at stake. It’ll obviously be a contrasting occasion to the other night. We’ve just got to play well, turn up and do what we did against Manchester United, which is work hard. Hopefully if we get the rub of the green, we can get the three points.
“Survival was our primary target (this season). To secure that at any stage of the season would have been good. Next season, we want to be setting our targets higher.”
It is that tougher mental approach – typified by a Red Devils side who compensate for their (relative) lack of flair with a surplus of fortitude – which manager Alan Pardew sees as the key to Newcastle making the next step. “I’m trying to instill a winning mentality in every game,” he says. “We’re getting that message through and if any player wants to come here that’s the mentality I want.”
Such sides are always built on defence. Manchester United’s is this season’s embodiment, Blackpool’s is rocky. Williamson’s partnership with Fabricio Coloccini – the archetypal English centre-half and the flashy foreign libero – is a good starting point for a team wanting to be more like the former than the latter. “He’s a brilliant footballer,” Williamson says of the Argentinian. “To play with somebody of his talent is fantastic. It’s a joy to play alongside him. It’s amazing the ability he’s got. He’s the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. He’s very warm and welcoming and makes you feel part of it. Everyone knows his English isn’t as fluent as most of the other lads, but he’s a really nice guy, family-orientated.
“Everyone has got their own friends and family, so we don’t spend a lot of time together away from the training ground. He’s got his own family – two young children, so he’s got his hands full – but when we’re all in each other’s company, we get on very well.
“He’s a very cultured player, very laid back. He’s very good on the ball. I play to my strengths – I try to be aggressive and win my headers and I let him do the ball-playing.
“I came here to try and prove myself at this level. I wanted to play as regularly as I could. I’m very appreciative of the number of games I’ve been able to pull on the jersey this season. It’s been a fantastic season both for me and the team.”