Steve McClaren believes Newcastle’s problems are all in their heads as they try to shake off an 11-month slump.
Since they beat QPR 1-0 at St James’ Park on November 22 last year to complete a run of six successive victories in all competitions, the Magpies have won only six of 38 games – and just five of 34 in the Premier League – a sequence which has seen confidence dwindle alarmingly.
They go into Sunday’s home clash with promoted Norwich sitting at the foot of the table and without a league win to their name this season, hardly what McClaren was hoping for in his first season in charge.
However, he believes he can shake his team out of a losing mentality which pre-dates his arrival on Tyneside.
McClaren said: “It’s from November, really, so it’s nearly a year – that doesn’t give a lot of belief and a lot of confidence to a team, a run like that, and that’s what we are trying to get back.
“We are showing it in spells, we are showing it in parts of games and in others, it quite easily and quickly drains away, and that’s any team. That can be at the bottom or the top.
“At the present moment, we just have to get over that hump and once we do, we have got the talent and ability – we have shown that – that we will win games.”
Newcastle’s season has not been all doom and gloom – they played well to draw 2-2 with Chelsea after leading 2-0 on September 26 and reached half-time at Manchester City a week later at 1-1 before succumbing to a Sergio Aguero blitz which saw them lose 6-1.
McClaren is desperate not to pile any added pressure on to his under-performing players as they attempt to end their wait for a league victory against the Canaries, and is simply demanding a 95-minute performance from them.
He said: “If you say, ‘It’s a must-win’, that’s a lot of stress, anxiety, over-arousal, under-performance, and we want a performance, so the pressure is to fight for 95 minutes.
“That’s the pressure, that’s the pressure from the fans and everybody at this football club, the pressure to be disciplined and do your job and the pressure to play football.
“That’s the pressure that we put on the players, and that’s every week. If we get that pressure in, we handle it and we perform, we will win football matches.”