Steve McClaren insists that the Premier League “isn’t complicated” and has called on his players to take inspiration from high-flying Leicester City and Watford.
Newcastle are unbeaten in three games but remain just two points clear of the relegation zone ahead of tonight’s visit of Everton to St James’s Park.
Currently 17th, hopes of achieving the pre-season target of a top-eight finish are remote.
And McClaren has moved to distance the Magpies from it.
The head coach admits he cannot guarantee how the rest of the season will pan out, but he is taking inspiration from Watford and league leaders Leicester, both perfect examples of how sticking to a simple game plan and executing it perfectly can reap rewards.
“It’s not really complicated,” said McClaren.
“You go to Holland, and it’s complicated.
“Germany, not so much, a little bit similar.
“Here, you’ve got more athletes.
“You look at the Watford performance against Liverpool (in last week’s 3-0 Vicarage Road win), and it’s a simple game plan.
“Even Leicester’s is a simple game plan, but very effective if you’ve got the right players, who are talented, athletic and robust.
“They’re strong, with the mentality, and you’ve been able to see that creeping in for a while.”
The top-eight target was publicised by managing director Lee Charnley when McClaren was unveiled as boss.
Asked if eighth was too big a target, McClaren said: “That was just bandied about.
“But I don’t think we ever knew (where we’d finish).
“We had a new manager coming in and new players as well.
“There was also the aftermath of what happened last season.
“It was very much an unknown.
“We said look at it after 10 to 12 games, but then someone said it’s usually the first 19 (before you can judge) and we have two of them to go.
“We are where we are, but we want to have a better second half to the season than we did the first.”
When pressed on whether it was unrealistic, McClaren added: “Let’s see where we finish.
“I can’t guarantee we will be better. We’re working and working and seeing the progress.
“More consistency needs to be there and we need a damn better second half then we did the first.
“We need a better 2016 than 2015, when there wasn’t a lot to cheer about all the way through.”