Steve McClaren saw more improvement from his Newcastle United side in their win at Bournemouth but admits “the turnaround is slow”.
After just his side’s third win in 14 matches this season, McClaren now finally believes Newcastle are building the mental strength to turn their campaign around.
“I said at half-time we need character, fight and grit to win, to keep a clean sheet, and that’s what we have,” said McClaren.
“We had a certain fragility about us early on in the season. We’d have lost that game early on.
“They stuck in there and the guys took belief from it.
“I’m always consistent in saying we can get better and be better, and we’re making progress, but the turnaround is slow.
“The first eight games were so difficult and you could see the hangover that the team was experiencing.
“Slowly, like a big ship, we’re trying to turn that around and results will help that.”
Newcastle were indebted to a string of fine saves from Rob Elliot in their 1-0 victory at Bournemouth, their first win on the road since January.
The 29-year-old overcame thigh trouble to ease Newcastle’s goalkeeping crisis, with Tim Krul out for the season and Karl Darlow still recovering from ankle trouble.
Darlow is expected to be fit for the trip to Crystal Palace on November 28, but McClaren could well now keep faith with Elliot.
“He’s the man in goal at the moment and we’ll wrap him in cotton wool and try to get him out there for the next game,” said McClaren.
“It’s a squad game. When we lost Darlow and Tim Krul we turned to Rob Elliot.
“He’s been terrific from day one, good around the place, experienced, a good talker and he won us three points at Bournemouth.”
McClaren still feels Elliot must continue his recovery from thigh trouble after playing through the pain at Dean Court.
Elliot could be in contention for the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2016 play-off against Bosnia-Herzegovina over the next fortnight.
McClaren does not expect to lose his Bournemouth match-winner, however.
“I hope not and I don’t think so,” said McClaren, when quizzed on Elliot’s chances of heading off on international duty.
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