MIKE Williamson has reminded Newcastle United that despite being outclassed by Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend, they can still mix it with England’s elite.
The Magpies suffered the biggest defeat of Alan Pardew’s reign on Saturday, a 5-0 drubbing at White Hart Lane.
The mood at the conclusion of the late kick-off was very different to that in the away end at the start. The reality is probably somewhere in the middle.
Chelsea’s earlier defeat had given Newcastle the chance to go above them into fourth. They squandered it, but are still only a point behind the Blues and Arsenal in sixth.
“A poor performance at Tottenham doesn’t hide the fact we’ve done well this season and we’re still in the mix with teams who have been Champions League regulars over recent seasons,” stressed centre-back Williamson who, like the rest of his team, was given a torrid time by rampant Tottenham.
The home side scored three times in the first 21 minutes, former on-loan Newcastle striker Louis Saha scoring twice on his full Spurs debut after joining from Everton. It was a start from which the Magpies never properly recovered.
“The first half, indeed the first 20 minutes, were a disaster for us, you just can’t do that against quality teams like Tottenham and we paid the ultimate penalty,” admitted Williamson.
“We got it together a bit more in the second half, which pleased us – but of course it was far too late.”
Suffering such a destructive start to the game inevitably forced Newcastle into damage limitation. Making his own full debut, Papiss Cissé cut an isolated figure in United’s attack for much of a freezing cold night.
Williamson had sympathy for the £7.5m targetman and his Senegalese team-mate Demba Ba. “We didn’t give Demba or Papiss much to feed off, just scraps really, and that didn’t help us either,” he acknowledged.
“Credit to Tottenham though, they’re a top side and deserve to be where they are in the league.
“Our sole aim is to bounce back against Wolves as we have got ourselves into a great position in the league and want to keep pushing on.”
The game at home to Wolves, on February 25, is Newcastle’s next because they are not involved in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Mick McCarthy's Wolves will also be looking to put a five-goal nightmare behind them, losing 5-1 at home to Black Country rivals West Bromwich Albion yesterday.