Confidence amongst the Newcastle United players is in a “very fragile” state, according to under-pressure manager Steve McClaren.
Newcastle are second from bottom in the Premier League after 14 matches following last weekend’s crushing 5-1 defeat at Crystal Palace.
McClaren’s men face in-form Liverpool, who have won their past four games in all competitions, at St James’ Park on Sunday.
The former England manager is deeply concerned by his team’s inconsistent performances.
“Nobody is happy at this football club,” McClaren said.
“We’ve lost the last two games and not performed very well. It’s a remarkable turnaround. We had turned the corner. But confidence can be eroded as quickly as it comes. All of sudden we have gone three steps forward and five or six back.
He continued: “We believe in these players but confidence is very fragile.
“People question a lack of character and fight and it appears that way, but these are young players, this is what they are going through.
“This experience they have to go through to come through it – that bit of adversity in a big club in a tough situation and be stronger when they come out of it.”
Sunday’s opponents Liverpool look invigorated under new boss Jurgen Klopp but McClaren said he would not be shocked if Newcastle recorded a positive result.
“That’s what we’ve got to believe – that the next game is an opportunity to build a performance and get a result,” he said.
“All of a sudden the confidence comes flooding back. We’ve done that at certain times in the season. We did it after Watford, Sheffield Wednesday – it was poor. But Chelsea [2-2 draw], what a response.”