Steve McClaren says Newcastle will go down if they continue to play like they did against Bournemouth on Saturday – and admits he is struggling to see any positives during his side’s predicament.
United were comfortably beaten 3-1 by the Cherries – a result that keeps them in the Premier League’s bottom three.
McClaren’s side were booed off by the home supporters, and the manager told BBC Sport: “I fully believe in what we are doing. But if we keep playing like that we will go down.”
The 54-year-old added: “There is no flowering it up. Players need to step up and not enough are doing that.
“At the moment I can’t see any positives, but we need to stick together and fight.”
‘The occasion got to some players’
Newcastle’s defeat was their 16th of the season and leaves them 19th in the table with 24 points from 28 games.
It is their fourth home loss of the campaign but their first of 2016.
When asked if Saturday’s defeat was Newcastle’s worst display at St James’ Park under his management, McClaren responded: “Without a shadow of a doubt.
“There was an edginess. We could see that in our players. We played too deep and lost our shape. Some wanted to press as they are encouraged to do by the crowd but the defence did not go with them and it left gaps at the back.
“Normally we are a good attacking team and good on the ball but we were poor on the ball. It is not the level we have produced at home in the last six or seven games. The occasion and inexperience got to a few.”
‘A four team league’
Swansea’s victory over Norwich on Saturday took them nine points clear of the bottom three, leaving a quartet of teams in serious relegation trouble.
Aston Villa remain eight points adrift at the bottom following their 4-0 loss at Manchester City, while Sunderland’s 1-1 draw at Southampton leaves them 17th with a one point advantage over Newcastle and Norwich.
In their remaining 10 matches, Newcastle play all three of their main relegation rivals, starting with north-east rivals Sunderland at the end of March.
“The only positive is we have 10 games to go,” said McClaren. “It is enough games to show the fight we need. It is a four team league and we play everybody around us. It is up to us.”
‘I am a fighter’
Speculation has been mounting about McClaren’s future, with some newspapers suggesting he would be sacked if his side lost to Bournemouth.
The home fans at St James’ Park made their feelings clear at the end of Saturday’s game and while McClaren admitted he fully understood their frustration, he insisted he would continue to battle on in his job.
“I’m a fighter and we’ve all got to fight,” he added. “There’s no one from outside the club that can solve it, it’s up to the players and the staff to do it.
“We will prepare to win the next game and put the characters in there who can handle this situation. Whatever happens they will be better players for going through this.”