Newcastle United manager Steve McClaren is counting on a reaction from his players after their dismal start to the Premier League season.
Watford head to St James’ Park on Saturday to take on an opponent winless in five top-flight matches and without a goal since the 2-2 opening-weekend draw against Southampton.
McClaren’s men battled to a creditable goalless draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford and were reduced to 10 men in their losses against Swansea City and Arsenal, but there were no mitigating circumstances in Monday’s dispiriting 2-0 defeat at West Ham.
“Generally it is early season, we are learning about each other and the Premier League,” McClaren said. “The reaction, we will see on Saturday. You get back on the horse and the players are up for a reaction on Saturday. The players and fans expect that.
“We have had five games – two were with 10 men. In four games, our attitude has been spot-on, some of our play, some of our battling. Then Monday.
“We are in the process of building a new team, and with new players in the Premier League, in the process of trying to change things around in a football club, and during that process, it is a little bit like a car crash.
“You know it is going to happen and you can’t do anything. You just wait for it to happen. Of course there is mental baggage. It is normal and natural when you look at the run of results. We the staff come in fresh not knowing what has gone on, and of course there is.
“We sensed that a little bit in pre-season – a couple of times we conceded a couple of goals, and the reaction wasn’t favourable.”