Kevin Keegan insists Premier League safety hasn’t yet been secured despite watching rampant Newcastle United dismantle Tottenham Hotspur 4-1.
Keegan’s free-flowing side moved back into mid-table and nine points clear of trouble as they capitalised on a shambolic defensive display from the League Cup holders to run out emphatic winners courtesy of their first away victory in more than three months.
Keegan urged caution, however, adamant that his rapidly improving side, who’ve taken seven points from the last nine, are still not quite out of relegation danger with six games remaining.
One more victory should see Newcastle safe, and the former England national coach admits his side are now looking up, rather than over their shoulders.
”We’re not safe yet,” said Keegan, who is in his second spell as manager of the club.
”But this means we can start looking up the table now. We could even catch Spurs up. Three weeks ago people would have said that was ridiculous, but not now.
”We’ve got a good squad here, and we shouldn’t be where we are in the table, but the players are doing something about it.”
Newcastle were a joy to watch, and in reference to their celebrated reputation as ”the entertainers” in his first spell in charge at the club, Keegan joked: ”We had three up front today [Sunday] and I might even put a couple more forwards in next time.
”This is the right way for us to play for the minute. Just trying to defend and hang on to things puts more pressure on us as a team.
”If anything, our defenders know they can perhaps concede a goal in the knowledge that we’ve still got enough goals in us to win a match.”
Nicky Butt swept Newcastle level in first-half stoppage-time, before Geremi’s free-kick and predatory finishes from Michael Owen — his third in as many games — and Obafemi Martins put the seal on a stunning away win, the club’s first since they took all three points at Fulham before Christmas.
As defender Jonathan Woodgate endured a miserable game against his former club, rampant Newcastle also hit the woodwork in each half through Habib Beye and Joey Barton while Tottenham’s England international, Paul Robinson, made several fine saves to keep the score respectable.
Keegan, who is well advanced with plans to strengthen his squad in the close season, added: ”We could have had seven or eight goals, and you don’t get many games where you’re 4-1 up at Spurs with five minutes to go, so you’ve got to make sure you enjoy it.
”If we can add to the squad in the summer things could get quite exciting. We don’t need an awful lot to set us alight. The players would welcome two or three new signings in the summer but they’ll have to be very good players to fit in here.”
Darren Bent headed Spurs ahead midway through the first half with his eighth goal of the season, the in-form England striker’s second in as many games.
But that was as good as it got for Spurs, who suffered their first home defeat in nine games and who look in serious danger of their season ending with a whimper in stark contrast to the high of February’s League Cup final victory over Chelsea.
”It was strange, we had a good first half and then for no apparent reason things changed,” said manager Juande Ramos.
”It was down to a lack of attention and the fact that the points were more important to Newcastle than us.
”We’re in a phase of the season that’s not quite so important so it’s a time to use the squad and have a look at the players to help us make a decision for next season.” — Sapa-AFP