Paul Merson rips into Newcastle United players

The former Arsenal forward believes that the Newcastle players could be doing more to stay in the top flight.

Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson has delivered a scathing assessment of Newcastle United's players in the wake of their morale-sapping 3-1 home defeat by survival rivals Bournemouth.

The Magpies' relegation fears grew a little more realistic on Saturday afternoon when Steve McClaren's side were humbled by the Cherries, leaving them one point adrift of safety in 19th position as it stands.

The result marked their third successive Premier League defeat - and fifth from their last six outings - and Merson cannot believe their performance yesterday, stating that it was "beyond a joke".

"These players are Premier League players. They play in the Premier League and get Premier League wages. So step in and play Premier League football and be like a Premier League player and defend like a Premier League player," he told Sky Sports.

"It's alright saying you feel sorry for them but these players are getting good money to come in and do something. Prove that you're good enough. Bournemouth were so much better than them it was beyond a joke. "

Unfortunately for Newcastle fans, it gets no easier. They travel to Premier League leaders Leicester City next Monday in a game which could have major implications for the both ends of the table.

After that, they welcome 17th-placed Sunderland in a huge North-East derby and, with the howls of discontent rife at St James's Park at the moment, Merson believes that the Newcastle players will be dreading that fixture.

"They are up against it," he added. "Sunderland will be licking their lips going there. Sunderland will be relieved they're playing at Newcastle, Newcastle would be more relieved if they were playing away at Sunderland it's that big a football match."

According to The Telegraph, the club's hierarchy are considering replacing McClaren with former Everton and Manchester United boss David Moyes.

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