Newcastle boss Steve McClaren expects the club’s hierarchy to stand by him as the Premier League season reaches a crucial point.
The Magpies’ defeat at Stoke on Wednesday, their sixth straight away loss in the Barclays Premier League, left them in the relegation zone with only 11 games to go and they meet fellow strugglers Bournemouth, Sunderland and Norwich over the next four fixtures.
With only two wins since mid-December, the pressure is building on McClaren ahead of those crunch contests and the fans who witnessed their 1-0 loss at the Britannia Stadium, some of whom appeared to have a brief argument with defender Daryl Janmaat after the final whistle, seemed unlikely to agree with their manager’s assertion they had “started the process” in terms of showing the effort required to stay up.
However, McClaren does not fear being axed before the term is out, even with the club’s top-flight status on the line.
“I don’t see any reason why not,” he replied when asked if he will see out the campaign.
“We’ve been in this position all season for a reason. We have to continue in the 11 games to go. You saw the reaction of the players after the last outing. The 18 days (break) has been good. We need that on Saturday.”
Newcastle are level on points with both Norwich and Sunderland, though they do have a game in hand, and the trio have been cut adrift from Swansea, who are six ahead following their win at Arsenal on Wednesday night.
McClaren knows that, starting with Bournemouth’s trip to the north east on Saturday, his men now have numerous fixtures that will define their season.
“We’ve had quite a few of these games where there is a lot of pressure on and they’re must wins – we have to deal with that,” he added.
“We’ve dealt with it before and we have to deal with it again. As it goes down and down, there’s going to be more. We’ve been in this position all season, we’re there for a reason and we’ve got to fight our way out of it. I think we’ve started to do that.”
Newcastle had come close to accruing a point which would have lifted them out of the relegation places before Xherdan Shaqiri rifled in an 81st-minute strike.
It was only the Swiss international’s third goal since moving to Stoke and his manager Mark Hughes admitted he recruited the ex-Bayern Munich forward to produce match-winning moments like he did on Wednesday.
“There’s a big expectation on our attacking players,” Hughes said. “There will be times in games when they need to come to the fore and wins games for us; that’s what Shaq did. At the weekend it was Marko (Arnautovic), so they’re playing their part which we need them to.
“We’re pleased (with Shaqiri). He’s starting to have an effect on games. He scored and created two chances at the weekend against Villa. If he’s not scoring, he’s making assists for us.
“That’s what we want from him. He needs to produce an end product and thankfully that’s what he’s doing at the moment.”