Newcastle manager Steve Bruce has warned his side to avoid being caught by a sucker punch on the final day of the season, as his side travel to relegated Fulham.
Bruce’s side have had it tough this season, going through a spell of two wins in 19 league matches which put the northeast club right in the thick of a relegation scrap.
However, with Sunday’s fixture looking at one point like a final-day relegation showdown, 13 points out of their last 21 has ensured that Newcastle will be able to travel to Craven Cottage in comfort.
However, Bruce is not expecting the Fulham match to be an easy one: “Look at Sheffield United being relegated and all of a sudden before they came to us, they’d won two out of four where they hadn’t won two for six months. The pressure’s off, go and enjoy it.
“We saw Brighton the other day go and beat the champions, we’ve seen Southampton put their best run together in the last month or so. It’s part and parcel of it.
“But I’ll do my utmost to make sure that we try our best to get on to 45 points and keep the season going just one more time. Then it would be a really, really smashing end to the season that we’ve just had.
“Just recently, just when we needed it, when we’d really come under the pump, we’ve produced form which has put us into the top six or seven on current form, which is terrific for the team. I’m delighted with the way they’ve responded.”
The Magpies have Arsenal loanee Joe Willock to thank for their change in fortunes, having scored in six consecutive league appearances.
However, Bruce believes that the midfielder has done “too well” at Newcastle, making it difficult for the loan to become permanent.
Despite a testing campaign at St James’ Park, Bruce is planning for the future, discussing his plans in the upcoming transfer window.
He said: “I think we need at least three or four. But for me now, it’s adding that bit of quality to the squad.
“It’s a really, really difficult competition we’re in, but certainly if we added three or four players to the current squad we’ve got – and adding that bit of quality is the most important thing for me.”