Steve McClaren has demanded a reaction from his Newcastle United players when they host West Brom in the Premier League on Saturday.
Despite spending big in the transfer window, bringing in Jonjo Shelvey, Andros Townsend, Henri Saivet and Seydou Doumbia, Newcastle fell to a 3-0 defeat at Everton on Wednesday.
Shelvey, Townsend and Saivet were all among the starters at Goodison Park, but were unable to haul their new club out of the relegation zone.
Newcastle, who also tried to sign West Brom striker Saido Berahino for a reported fee of £21million, are two points adrift of safety.
Head coach McClaren voiced his disapproval at the performance after the final whistle and has reminded his players that fans will expect a rise in standards when they run out at St James’ Park this weekend.
“We need a reaction from individuals and collectively,” McClaren said. “Fifty-two thousand people will demand a reaction against West Brom on Saturday.
“We have said you can’t waste a game now and that’s what we’ve done. Some of them know they have fallen short and that is why we lost.
“That is not what we have come to expect and you can’t afford to do that with games ebbing away.
“We had bad results against Leicester and Crystal Palace [in November] where that [attitude] was questioned but since then it has been excellent.
“I felt it was disappointing we returned to that level and that is unacceptable.”
McClaren lost Chancel Mbemba and Paul Dummett to injury at Everton, while Jamaal Lascelles was sent off, leaving the Magpies short of defensive options.
“In terms of things that can go wrong they did go wrong in terms of injuries,” added McClaren. “We just have to dust ourselves down and see who we have got fit.
“Whatever the team, they have to be committed and fight.”
West Brom – eight points clear of Newcastle in 14th – come into the fixture on the back of clinching a last-gasp 1-1 draw against Swansea City in midweek, but are without a win in their last six away Premier League fixtures.
Striker Victor Anichebe has scored more goals against Newcastle (5) than any other side and, given the opportunity, he will fancy his chances of improving on that record, with McClaren’s men having gone nine league matches without keeping a clean sheet.
Tony Pulis faces his own defensive headache after Jonny Evans picked up a hamstring injury in the draw with Swansea, with Sebastien Pocognoli among the contenders to step in.
Key Opta stats:
– Georginio Wijnaldum has scored nine goals and assisted one more in 12 Premier League appearances at St James’ Park.
– West Bromwich Albion have scored 39 per cent of their goals from headers this season, a Premier League-high proportion.
– The average age of WBA’s starting XI in the Premier League this season has been 29 years, 247 days old; the oldest average of all PL teams in 2015-16.
– The Baggies have scored 42 goals in 42 Premier League matches under Tony Pulis.
– Since Pulis’ first Premier League game in charge of WBA on January 10 2015, the Baggies have averaged fewer shots on target per game than any other side in the competition (3.3).
– However, since his first game in charge only Arsenal (19) have kept more clean sheets in the Premier League than West Brom (18 – level with Man City).
– West Brom have had more possession than their opponent in just three of their 24 Premier League games so far this season, but one of these was against Newcastle.