Steve McClaren has labelled Newcastle United’s defeat to Everton “unacceptable”.
A first-half goal from Aaron Lennon, and two late penalties from Ross Barkley, condemned the Magpies to a 3-0 defeat at Goodison Park.
And the club remains 18th in the Premier League, and two points adrift of safety, ahead of Saturday’s crucial home game against West Bromwich Albion.
The result – and performance – has also heaped more pressure on head coach McClaren given the team’s woeful record this season.
Almost £80million has been spend on the squad since the end of last season.
But United, again, are battling relegation.
“We’ve got 14 games left, and we can’t waste a game now,” said McClaren, who handed £12million winger Andros Townsend his debut.
“But that’s what we’ve done. (Jonjo) Shelvey has bedded in and was excellent on his debut. You can see that Andros will bed in as well.
“He gives us that natural width. I just thought we weren’t at the level in terms of what we needed to get a result.”
Only goalkeeper Rob Elliot – who pulled off a series of saves to keep his team in the game – could leave the pitch with his head held high.
Asked if some players had “fallen short”, McClaren added: “Absolutely, some have fallen short.
“We’ve told them that, and they know it. That’s not what we come to expect, and you can’t afford to do that with the games ebbing away.
“We need a reaction on Saturday now, individually and collectively. A few players didn’t show their quality, which is why we’ve lost.
“The attitude has been different class in the last couple of months.
“We had bad results against Leicester and Crystal Palace, where that was questioned, but since then we’ve had a perfect reaction.
“The attitude has been great and we’ve stuck together and played as a team.
“I felt that disappointingly we kind of returned to that level. That’s unacceptable. But we’ve got a game in three days’ time where 52,000 people will demand that level and we have to provide it.
“We came back a little bit without being convincing.
“But overall it was a very disappointing night – not what we’ve come to expect from our team.
“There were a couple of injuries that haven’t helped, but we can’t feel sorry or lose belief.”