Steve McClaren would be happy for Newcastle to have a 'boring' season
Steve McClaren has admitted he would be quite happy with an uneventful stay in mid-table after a nerve-shredding start to his reign at Newcastle.
The Magpies have given their survival hopes a major boost in the last fortnight with largely unexpected victories over Liverpool and Tottenham, which have eased them out of the bottom three.
A third successive win over struggling Aston Villa on Saturday evening could leave them in a comfortable position, and that would do for McClaren.
Asked if he would settle for a "boring" second-half of the season, he replied: "At the present moment that's not boring me. Believe you me, that's not boring me."
Despite their recent form, Newcastle head into the home clash with Villa - who are propping up the Barclays Premier League table with just six points from their opening 16 games - with the more pessimistic members of the Toon Army fearing the worst after enduring a roller-coaster ride in recent seasons.
Asked if it would be Newcastle-like for them to lose to Remi Garde's men, McClaren said: "So everyone keeps telling me this week.
"The players have heard it, we have heard it and I think we have got the message loud and clear. We will do everything to try to avoid that.
"All you can do is prepare and give yourselves the best possible chance to win, and that is what we have done. Tomorrow is an opportunity and a challenge for the players to say that is not going to happen.
"But there is no doubt we are facing a very, very dangerous Villa team who have got individuals who are capable of winning football matches.
"This is another test and we will pass it if we are ready. If we don't, then we are not ready."
McClaren's players have found a fighting spirit in recent weeks that had been sadly lacking previously, and he revealed that was forged within the dressing room amid intense criticism over what had gone before.
He said; "They provided the edge themselves. They were hurt by the criticism. They have responded in the right way, in the way that we would like and the fans would like.
"You're going to lose games and you have to accept the criticism - then you have to do something about it, and that's what they've done."