Newcastle United are bottom of the table after eight games of the season.
Before the 2015/16 campaign kicked-off, expectations in Newcastle had dialled up a notch following a hefty summer outlay on transfers and a top-eight spot was sounded out as a realistic target.
However, a terrible opening two months have left the Magpies bottom of the table, winless in eight, five points adrift of safety and enduring what can only be described as a bizarre injury crisis.
Speaking to The Sun on the challenges ahead, McClaren says a top-eight finish is now dead in the water and the most important objective is to reach the magical 40-point mark.
“At the present moment, being in the top eight is miles away. The most important thing at the present is to get to 40 points. You’ve got to get those points and then everything else is irrelevant,” he said.
“If someone said to me now ‘You’ll have 40 points by mid-April’, I’d take it. That’s just the perspective of where we are. “I think people would think I’d gone absolutely daft and crazy if I was sitting here now saying we’d turn that down.”
Newcastle find themselves in a precarious situation. Yet if there is one uplifting thought to take from it, it’s that the people involved recognise their position and are planning on getting out of it.
The last time the Magpies suffered relegation to the Championship, too many people mentioned the club’s status, how they were too big to go down, and that attitude meant they lacked a fighting spirit.
While Newcastle fans have little to cheer about at present, the club seemingly understand what needs to be done and the players will respond to that by showing their battling qualities.
Norwich City visit the North East on Sunday, a game which the Magpies must get something from before they take on rivals Sunderland at the Stadium of Light the following week.