Ivanovic: Finding the right level

Branislav Ivanovic noted the marked difference in our performance before and after the break on Saturday, just as his manager did, with the defender stressing we must aim to replicate our second-half showing at St James’ Park in the weeks to come.

It was in the final quarter-of-an-hour that we scored our two goals to salvage a point that had for a long time looked unlikely, but on reflection Ivanovic felt we merited the result for displaying different kinds of qualities as we tried to find a way back into the match.  

‘I think the second half is the way we have to play all our games,’ the Serbian said.

‘It was a very difficult game for us especially in the first half when we did not play aggressively enough. We reacted well in the second half. We showed character. We played very hard and very strong with a lot of aggression.

‘We wanted to win the game and we felt we could turn it around. We had a couple of chances to score and even score a winning goal which would have been massive for us. At the end of the day we didn’t score a third one but I thought we deserved to come back.’

The two goals conceded on Saturday came from crosses into our box that were not met by clearing defensive headers but clinical home-side attackers. Ivanovic doesn't see any relevance in considering whether or not they were the type of goals we would have avoided letting in on our way to the title last term.

‘No, this is football. It’s impossible to compare even one game from last season with a game from this one. This is a completely different season and in our head we know that. We cannot go back to last season.

‘For us now it’s important to keep winning games and to go back to the good level we were at in the last couple of games. That is what we need. The first half against Newcastle was not good enough but the second half was very good and we have to keep going like that.’