Sir John Hall urges Mike Ashley to sack Steve McClaren
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has been urged by Sir John Hall to sack Steve McClaren and give the club a chance of survival in the Barclays Premier League.
Ashley bought out Hall's stake in the club to take charge at St James' Park in 2007, and the club had hoped the appointment of former England boss McClaren last summer would bring stability after a run of turbulent seasons.
However, Saturday's 3-1 home defeat by Bournemouth left the Magpies deep in Barclays Premier League relegation trouble, sitting 19th in the table with 10 games remaining and looking incapable of putting together the kind of run which would drag them to safety.
McClaren, who received the public backing of his players in a statement before kick-off, faced the media after a damaging reverse in a must-win game and vowed not to walk away.
However, the decision over his continuing employment could be taken out of McClaren's hands as Ashley, who has poured more than £82million into player recruitment since appointing the 54-year-old head coach, and managing director Lee Charnley assess their options.
That review will include the identification of potential successors if they decide to sack McClaren, with David Moyes and Rafael Benitez reportedly contenders to step in.
Hall, who was in charge when Newcastle almost became English champions under Kevin Keegan in the 1990s, said: "I'm like every fan, I'm utterly depressed that we're in a relegation battle again. We shouldn't be there. If I was Mike Ashley I'd be tearing my hair out. He's put money in to buy players and they're not gelling.
" If I was the owner again I would have somebody in mind to bring them in. That's the gamble you take, but at this moment in time we are prime candidates for relegation."
Hall told BBC 5 Live's Sportsweek programme: "Ashley's got to step back, it's his responsibility, he has put the cash in, and it hasn't happened. So he's got to put a rescue plan in.
"I would be inclined to say to the manager 'It's time to go' and bring somebody else in."
England internationals Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend were among the players signed by Newcastle in the winter transfer window.
Former Newcastle captain Alan Shearer said on the BBC's Match of the Day programme: "He's (McClaren) in massive trouble, he has to take his fair share of the blame but the whole club is a mess from top to bottom."
Bournemouth were controlling Saturday's game even before Steven Taylor's unfortunate own goal, and the game was effectively won when Josh King blasted home a second. Ayoze Perez's late strike gave Newcastle hope but Charlie Daniels later made it 3-1 to the south coast side.
McClaren was subjected to a torrent of abuse from the stands at St James' Park, and one supporter hurled his season ticket on to the roof of the dug-out as he walked out in disgust.
Asked if the players were hurting, McClaren told the club's official website: "I hope so because it hurts me. I don't like it. We have to get back on the training ground and put it right. The good thing is we have got 10 games to go.
"If we perform like that, we are going down, but I know in that dressing room there are enough performances, good ones - also bad ones - but there are enough good performances there to get the points and to finish top of the four-team league.
"We play them all, it's still in our hands."
The upcoming games against fellow strugglers Norwich and Sunderland, and seemingly-doomed Aston Villa, could define Newcastle's season.
Perez admitted the Magpies simply have not been good enough and conceded change was vital, but vowed to support McClaren
The Spanish forward said: "He's our manager. He is still our manager and we are all with him. We're going to keep respecting his decisions.
"It's not enough, what we have shown (against Bournemouth), it's not good for the club and for the supporters, so something has to change. We have to be a team, we have to be one, and maybe when that happens we can win games and take points."
The promoted Cherries are close to securing their top-flight status, and manager Eddie Howe could hardly be happier.
He said: "We were aware that it was really down to us and what we did that would be the important thing in this game, nothing to do with Newcastle.
"We wanted to obviously use the crowd to our advantage, but that was again going to be dictated by us and not them.
"But most of the things the players did were very good and I think you saw a lot of potential in this team."