Bottom of the table with two points, are Newcastle really facing a ‘must win’ game in mid-September?
It has been a torrid week on Tyneside as Newcastle United try to pick up the pieces of Monday's tame loss to West Ham United.
Whilst some think the furore is unjustified, many fans see old habits creeping back into the club's pattern of play. This weekend has become an opportunity for all involved at the club to prove those doubts are unjustified.
So, is it must-win?
With two draws and three defeats this season, Newcastle are bottom of the league. Saturday’s visit of Watford is the latest fixture to be given the mantle of ‘must-win’ on Tyneside.
Whilst any points taken against the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal are seen as a bonus, many look to new-boys Watford as the game where Newcastle need to show their Premier League pedigree and find out where they truly stand among England's elite.
What do the players think?
The Dutchman said: "We have to win otherwise the pressure will only continue to increase. We have to offer a much bigger goal-scoring threat."
What does the manager think?
Steve McClaren is obviously keen to put less of a stress on the game and has stuck by his request to judge his side after 12 games.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon, covered by the club's Twitter account, McClaren said: “We knew it would be a tough start. It takes time (with new players) and sometimes you can take a step forward and two steps back.”
Given the tepid performance against West Ham on Monday, however, there is no doubt that the Fulford man is feeling the heat from both fans and the media, and knows just how important tomorrow’s game could be in shaping the coming months at St. James’ Park.
What about Watford?
Watford have defied pre-season talk of relegation battles, proving hard to beat both home and away in their first five games.
As well as a 1-0 win against Swansea City last week, The Hornets’ have picked up points against Everton, West Bromwich Albion, Southampton and lost just once to league-leaders Manchester City.
Current boss Quique Sánchez Flores has a wealth of experience and an impressive resume, winning the Europa League with Atlético Madrid in 2010. The Spaniard has quickly imposed his philosophy on the players and it is paying dividends so far.
What happens if Newcastle fail to win?
The pressure will be immense on Steve McClaren after only six games. Whilst it’s by no means a death knell, much will be made of Newcastle’s summer spending if they fail to beat Watford.
However, what fans want to see evidence of is a committed performance. If Newcastle give everything they have and come away with a draw, it won’t be the end of the world, but The Toon Army want to see their players going for goal, making big decisions and leading by example.
There is no doubt Watford will arrive at St. James’ Park full of confidence in achieving a positive result and in turn, if they can keep the scores level come the second-half, they are in with a chance of taking more than just a draw back to Hertfordshire.
Much has been made of the Toon's lack of firepower up front and an early goal would give the team a huge boost. It will be up to the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum, Moussa Sissoko and Jack Colback to take the game by the scruff of the neck and push their team forward from the kick-off.