An agonising defeat by Reading gave Davide Santon a restless night and, he explains to Neil Cameron, he won’t relax until top-flight survival is secured
“The problem is that there has been lapses in concentration and we are not scoring enough goals.”
There is a significant difference between this season and 2008/09 relegation campaign when far too many players, quite simply, weren’t giving their all.
But effort is one thing. Losing at home to Reading, after leading at half-time, is quite something else.
Santon would not have been the only person in the Newcastle area who struggled to get a proper night’s sleep on Saturday. However, the 22-year-old is nothing if not positive. His attitude is, in fact, pretty infectious.
Santon said: “I think we deserve to be higher in the league. In the team we have good and important players. But this season we have had different problems.
“We are not solid in defence as we were last year and in attack, for example, every ball you gave to Papiss (Cissé) ended as a goal last season. But it has been different this time. Papiss has been very unlucky and not scored as many goals.
“The whole team has been unlucky at times, especially Papiss. If we had been four goals up at half-time against Reading nobody could have complained. We scored just one, we didn’t concentrate 100% in the second, and it was 2-1 Reading.
“There is not a nice atmosphere in training. We are all together and friends, but nobody is happy with the results and where we are.
“One thing you need to know is that everyone cares about the club. I care so much about Newcastle United. I owe the club so much because they gave me a chance to play in the Premier League when I was so young. The manager has given me a lot of confidence, as have my team-mates, in my two years here.
“The same goes for our fans because they have helped me so much. If I do something wrong in a game they never have a go at me. That is important.”
Santon has struggled of late, but he has plenty of credit in the bank from his performances for most of 2012 and he never hides out on the park, or indeed in the dressing room when it’s time for strong opinions to be voiced. He said: “I didn’t speak a lot last year, but I say a lot more now. I think it’s important that we all speak our minds.”
For Santon, 2013 is going to be a massive year. Fatherhood is just around the corner, his girlfriend is six months’ pregnant, and there is the small task of saving Newcastle from relegation.
He said: “I want to be here. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but right now all I want is for Newcastle to do well and make sure they remain in the Premier League.
“We need to win some games in a row. The problem has been, for example, that we beat QPR then lost a few games. We need to win a few games, even draw some, and that will help with confidence.
“I don’t even think about Newcastle playing in the Championship. We will stay in the Premier League, but it’s up to all of us to make sure that happens.”