‘Excellent’ festive period for Newcastle, says McClaren despite one point from four games

Steve McClaren watches Newcastle slip to defeat at Arsenal
Steve McClaren watches Newcastle slip to defeat at Arsenal
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Steve McClaren feels his Newcastle United side were “excellent” over the Christmas and New Year period – despite a haul one of point from four games.

A goal from Laurent Koscielny gave Arsenal a 1-0 win on Saturday.

The relegation-threatened club has lost its last three games by the same scoreline.

And Newcastle left the Emirates Stadium again frustrated that they hadn’t taken the chances that had come their way, having dominated much of the game.

Head coach McClaren says his team’s commitment since the embarrassing 5-1 loss to Crystal Palace in late November can’t be questioned, even though the run of results has left the team deeper in relegation trouble.

“I think when we took three points from the first eight games, people were questioning the team,” said McClaren.

“But since then, we’ve had 10 or 11 games, and there’s only really been a couple (where they’ve let themselves down).

“The last five or six games have been excellent, and we have to keep that going.

“You’ve seen that we’ve got that quality, and we can do it. I’m sure in time, with 18 games still to go, it’ll be fine. But we have to start doing it.”

McClaren believes United’s performance against Arsenal, which he feels was better than that in the win over Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane last month, has given the team a new hope.

“We’ve done that (performed) consistently, probably from Liverpool at home onwards,” he said.

“The Spurs performance was very good, but this was probably an even better performance than we had against Spurs.

“That’s what you look for. It’s difficult to come here.

“People would have expected a certain result with Arsenal where they are and us where we are, but it just shows that the differences in the league are very close.

“We just have to keep performing like that and keep believing, even though we keep getting knockbacks, especially in the last two games.”