Steve McClaren says the Newcastle job is proving harder than he expected, admitting the club is now “very close” to being in crisis.
The Magpies will entertain Chelsea on Saturday evening still looking for their first Premier League win of the campaign and having been dumped out of the Capital One Cup on their own pitch on Wednesday night by Championship outfit Sheffield Wednesday.
Lewis McGugan’s 76th-minute strike secured a 1-0 victory for the visitors and left McClaren scratching his head as he desperately tries too mould a team from the players he inherited and those bought for him at great, but as yet unjustified, expense by managing director Lee Charnley on the recommendation of chief scout Graham Carr.
Speaking after the game, McClaren admitted he is struggling to explain why Newcastle have started the season so badly.
“Is the job harder than I thought? Absolutely. Without a doubt,” he said.
“People say it’s a crisis and it’s getting very close to it. We deserve to be criticised.”
Asked why it is not working, McClaren said: “It’s hard to put your finger on, but we have to find it.
“It’s a mentality thing. You can go into those games and finish those games and feel sorry for yourself. We can’t have that. We can’t have that and we can’t make excuses.
“I’m not here to criticise individuals and whatever I say will never be enough to vindicate the performance and the result. The only thing you can do is get in tomorrow morning and prepare for Chelsea.
“We have got to have that fighting mentality rather than that victim one.”
McClaren, who was pilloried as his reign as England manager drew to a close, admitted it was a tough situation but remains convinced he and his staff will get things right on Tyneside.
He said: “That’s football. This is, for me, a challenge. We have got to start using our experience now, and we have got that. We have got to find the solutions. Mentally, technically, tactically, we have got to find the solutions.
“It’s in that dressing room, we have got to find it and we have got to find it quickly.”
Opposite number Carlos Carvalhal was understandably thrilled with a deserved victory.
He said: “I am very happy with the players. They were perfect in the strategy that we brought to this match. They gave 100 per cent to the team and to our strategy, so I am very happy with them.”