Newcastle boss Steve McClaren says his players are trying despite being accused of not caring about the club’s precarious plight.
The Magpies have been an easy target for their critics in recent weeks with abject displays in defeat by Leicester and Crystal Palace having plunged the club back into the Barclays Premier League relegation zone.
McClaren’s side has conceded eight goals in its last two matches and scored just once, and the sight of defenders turning their backs as the goals flew in against Palace did little to placate fans who have witnessed the club’s decline in recent seasons.
However, the former England boss, who will lead his troops into battle with a rejuvenated Liverpool on Sunday, said: “You cross that white line and you play in front of 52,000 people, believe you me, you have got to try.
“When you are lacking in confidence and you are lacking in belief, you are not getting results and performances and you are a young player coming into a new situation, or an old one that’s always there, it’s very difficult to turn that around, very difficult.
“It looks like, from the outside, they are not trying, they are not running, they are not working. I thought that and we looked at the stats and they are exactly the same. But it looks like they are not trying.
“But they are and we see that. We are trying to build it every week and I see it in training, and we need to transfer that confidence that we have and that belief that we have in the week into a Saturday.”
Former Newcastle skipper Alan Shearer was withering in his Match of the Day analysis last weekend, suggesting the club has too many “Monday to Friday” players and bemoaning the lack of an obvious plan.
But McClaren said: “I tend not to listen to pundits on Match of the Day or any other programme. People make me aware (of their comments) and they’re interesting.
“I’ve been a pundit myself and it’s a great job. It’s the best job in the world. Football’s about opinions. There are lots of TV and radio programmes. When you’re asked, you have to give an opinion. It’s what you’re paid for.
“You respect that opinion from people who have played football at the highest, highest level. I’ve got no criticism of that. But we tend not to focus (on them), though one or two things are very interesting.”