Steve McClaren says there’s “no panic” at Newcastle United – despite his team’s dire form.
The Magpies were beaten 5-1 by Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
The result left the Tynesiders second-bottom in the Premier League – and two points adrift of 17th-placed Sunderland.
There were calls for McClaren to be sacked after the match – but he is understood to be safe, for now, despite being the odds-on favourite to be the next Premier League manager to leave his post.
But the Newcastle head coach – who ordered his players into training yesterday – is refusing to panic ahead of this coming Sunday’s home game against Liverpool, despite admitting that the black and whites are now embroiled in a “relegation battle”.
“That’s the key thing – there’s no panic,” said McClaren.
“If there were seven or eight games to go, and we were still down there, then people would be panicking, but that’s where experience tells.
“We know we’re doing the right things every day. I know from experience we’re doing the right things on the training ground, and, in time, that will turn around and work
“At the present moment it’s not, and that’s leading to huge disappointments that I hope will toughen us up and make us stronger in the long run.”
McClaren is adamant that, under his guidance off the pitch, the team can come through a period of “adversity” on the field.
“You’ve just got to keep doing the right things,” he said.
“While everyone else around you is losing their heads, you’ve got to keep yours. You have to keep calm and keep a sense of perspective.
“We’ve got a vision of what we want our team to be, and we’ll be working towards that. That happens every day, and it has been happening every day.
“We just have to keep going in and doing the right things, and we know what the right things are.
“We know what we have to put right, and we’ll be trying to do that. We’ll work with this group of players to try to develop fight and character.
“Through the bad times, that’s when your character comes out.
“I’m hoping we learn and adapt quickly, and that through adversity and the disappointments we’ve had, we know that when this happens, we can come through it.
“But that takes a lot more than what we’re doing at the present moment.”
Papiss Cisse bagged a goal on his first Newcastle start since September, but the Tynesiders’ capitulation to former boss Pardew only serves to underscore McClaren’s widespread problems.
A seventh defeat in 11 Premier League games leaves owner Mike Ashley under pressure to splash yet more cash in the January transfer window.
Newcastle shelled out £13million on Aleksandar Mitrovic in the summer, but the former Anderlecht striker has fired just two goals in 14 appearances.
Cisse handed Newcastle the perfect start, and the kind of front-line play so missing for the majority of the campaign.
The Senegal hitman ghosted onto Daryl Janmaat’s chipped ball into the box, and nodded past the stranded Wayne Hennessey.
Just when the visitors thought they could cling to Cisse’s foothold opener, their defence and midfield evaporated in alarming fashion.
First Fabricio Coloccini’s poor misread allowed ex-Sunderland striker Connor Wickham to feed McArthur, the midfielder’s shot looping home via a huge deflection off Paul Dummett’s back.
Then Wickham’s poor, trickling attempt at a low cross somehow bobbled past Newcastle’s six statuesque defenders, gifting Bolasie Palace’s second goal.
And, on the stroke of half-time, the hosts capitalised on yet more horrendous Newcastle defending, Chancel Mbemba diving in horribly to allow Wickham to float a deep ball right across the box to Zaha.
The winger kept his shape to stay over the top of the ball, but so much so that his strike bounced straight off the turf - and past the hapless Rob Elliot.
Pardew’s men turned around 3-1 up, and with Wickham claiming all three assists by little more than default thanks to Newcastle’s ineptitude.
The second half was hardly under way when Palace captain Damien Delaney headed ex-Newcastle star Yohan Cabaye’s free-kick into Bolasie’s path. The forward tiptoed round Newcastle’s porous defence and prodded home, ending any shred of a comeback.
At the death, McArthur drove in his second after Elliot’s weak parry gifted him the chance to seal Palace’s rout.
Crystal Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare, Cabaye (Lee 75), McArthur, Bolasie, Puncheon, Zaha (Jedinak 67), Wickham (Bamford 86). Subs not used: Speroni, Ledley, Chamakh, Kelly. Booked: Zaha. Goals: McArthur 14 & 90, Bolasie 17 & 47, Zaha 41.
Newcastle: Elliot, Janmaat, Mbemba, Coloccini, Dummett, Colback (De Jong 70), Anita, Sissoko, Perez (Lascelles 46), Wijnaldum (Gouffran 70), Cisse. Subs not used: Thauvin, Darlow, Sterry, Mitrovic. Booked: Mbemba. Goal: Cisse 10.
Att: 24,833. Ref: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)