Steve McClaren has denied any rift with Papiss Cisse after the striker was replaced at half-time during Newcastle’s defeat to Watford.
The Magpies’ wretched start to the season continued on Saturday when Quique Sanchez Flores’ side left St James’ Park with a 2-1 victory.
Odion Ighalo netted twice inside the opening 28 minutes before Daryl Jaanmat scored the hosts’ first Premier League goal in 464 minutes midway through the second half. Watford held on, though, to leave McClaren’s side winless, with Toon legend Alan Shearer describing their performance as “not acceptable”.
McClaren insists his side are “just turning things around” and that centre-forward Cisse was just “unfortunate” to be replaced at half-time by Siem De Jong.
“There’s no problem with Papiss. We just felt we had to change something,” said the manager.
“We felt we needed to add some type of pace and approach it a little differently. He was unfortunate.
“Papiss is here and he’s part of the squad. He’s a player who can score.
“He needs service for that and we had some crosses in the first half and some opportunities we’ll look at.
“Really, the game was too open for us and Watford, as West Ham did, took advantage.”