Training ground rows have engulfed Newcastle in the build-up to this weekend’s game and they must now show heart to turn things around.
Nobody can blame boss Steve McClaren for losing his cool.
The Telegraph reported this week that following Leicester City’s 3-0 win at St. James’ Park last Saturday, 54-year-old McClaren told his players exactly what he thought of them at their Benton base, challenging them in no uncertain terms to better represent the black & white shirt.
The Fulford man, to his credit, had clung on what little positives he had been given by his players in an effort to motivate them. Every week McClaren would highlight small points that encouraged him, unwavering in his tone that things were going the right way. This approach has failed and the former England boss’ patience has worn thin.
Unsurprisingly, fans have backed the manager's stance as they clamour for more passion from their heroes. The general consensus among the Geordie faithful is that it’s been a long time coming and McClaren has every right to stamp his authority on a woefully underperforming squad.
But home truths can only take you so far and the time has come for the team to consistently deliver on the pitch, starting on Saturday against Crystal Palace.
Palace have lost four of their seven home games this season and the prospect of Newcastle picking up points at Selhurst Park is possible.
There is no doubt that the wealth of talent available on Tyneside has the ability to win against The Eagles. Newcastle’s preferred starting XI this season has typically included 10 full internationals. It’s the desire and attitude of these players, however, that has been lacking throughout.
With January approaching and the club teetering over the relegation zone, the entire team are playing for both their personal and collective futures. The Daily Star reported that McClaren will resist the temptation to make changes in order to give his men one more chance.
It’s important to state that a loss would not signal doom and gloom back in the North-East, but only if the effort put forward by those on the pitch is finally worthy of praise. Fans want their team to roll their sleeves up, dig in and fight for 90 minutes.
It’s when there is no real effort that fans and pundits alike are allowed to be as critically honest about Newcastle as McClaren finally was this week.
At 3pm on Saturday, all the verbal fireworks of this week will have faded away and there will be nothing left to do but play. If Newcastle players feel hard done by what's been said, this is their chance to prove everyone wrong.