Under-pressure Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren has received the public backing of his players in the face of a desperate relegation fight.
In a statement attributed to the whole squad, which was released to Sky Sports less than two hours before kick-off in Saturday afternoon’s Barclays Premier League clash with Bournemouth at St James’ Park, the Magpies’ playing staff responded to a report that some senior members were surprised the 54-year-old is still in his job.
The statement read: “Newcastle United players would like to make clear that reports in some areas of the media suggesting we are surprised that our head coach has not been dismissed are untrue.”
It continued: “As a group, we aware of the situation we are in and it is our responsibility to change that.
“The coach and his staff prepare us well for each game, but once on the pitch it is not they who can stop the goals we concede or the chances we don’t take, that responsibility is ours the players.
“On the occasions we have given poor performances this season, the coach has in the privacy of the dressing room rightly demonstrated his disappointment in us.
“In his press conferences though, we have seen that he defends his group, continues to show faith in us and shares the responsibility with us. For this, he has the full respect of the players.”
The unusual step came a day after McClaren became embroiled in an angry exchange with a journalist sparked by the story which suggested the lack of support for him from within the dressing room.
That incident was widely reported and today’s statement had not been circulated to other media organisations or published on the club’s official website more than half an hour later.
The statement continued: “The players are also aware from articles in yesterday’s newspapers that a person or persons connected with the club are giving information to the press of a negative nature.
“As players, we are very disappointed by this. It’s a betrayal of trust for the coach, us and the club. As a group we know we have it within us to keep this club in the Premier League.
“We now must fight every game at a time to earn our place in the Premier League for next season.”