Remi Garde admits Aston Villa’s fixtures over the Christmas period will be a big indication whether the club can avoid relegation this season.
Villa have made the worst ever start to a Premier League season, earning only six points from their opening 16 fixtures.
Garde takes his side to fellow strugglers Newcastle United on Saturday, before fixtures against West Ham, Norwich City and Sunderland.
“The next four games will be crucial. Let’s see what happens. I see players who are totally committed,” said Garde – who took over as manager after Tim Sherwood was sacked in October.
“We need goals and points. We have chances but now we need to be more efficient.
“We are totally focused on the next four games. I still believe strongly we can switch the way things are going at the moment. We concede too many goals but we are not conceding by four or five goals.”
Newcastle are only two points above the relegation zone but have enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence under Steve McClaren with eye-catching victories over Liverpool and Tottenham in their previous two matches.
And Villa may be without former England defender Micah Richards after Garde revealed the 27-year-old has picked up a knock.
“Captain Micah Richards is still struggling with his knee. We will see at the end of the week,” he said.