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Steve McClaren acknowledges Newcastle need a strong second half of the season

Published 27/12/2015

Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren is looking for a better second half of the season
Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren is looking for a better second half of the season

Steve McClaren is looking for a second-half resurgence after seeing Newcastle stutter through the opening months of the Barclays Premier League season.

A 1-0 Boxing Day defeat by Everton at St James' Park sends the Magpies into Monday's trip to West Brom with just 17 points from their opening 18 league games - in the relegation zone, if only on goal difference.

McClaren's men will need to make a significant improvement over the remaining months of the campaign if they are to avoid a season-long survival fight, and he will hope that starts at The Hawthorns.

The head coach said: "It is like a football match - we are coming to the end of the first half and two halves are completely different, and we hope our second half will be better.

"There are still 20 games to go, so still plenty. Hopefully the second half will be better."

Newcastle would have been a point better off and out of the bottom three had Everton midfielder Tom Cleverley not steered home a header deep into injury time to snatch victory.

McClaren and his staff now face the task of lifting their players both mentally and physically for the clash with the Baggies.

The 54-year-old said: "It's a big test for us on Monday and whoever travels to West Brom, we need the crowd as well.

"I thought they were great at the end showing their appreciation. It's about performance because if we carry on like that, we will win games and collect points.

"West Brom is a mentality test as much as a physical one. We will try to recover, get some energy into them and I might have to use the squad, but we have to get on with it."

The Magpies have taken just one point from their last two games, but at least have keeper Rob Elliot in fine form after he once again demonstrated his ability to deputise for the injured Tim Krul with a series of fine saves against the Toffees.

McClaren said: "I said at the time it was up to him and come in and get us the points Tim would have got us and in recent weeks, he has certainly earned his corn. He did that and it is just disappointing for him that he didn't get the point.

"He has stepped in and done the job and done very well, and not just between the sticks. He has great experience, he's a good talker in the dressing room and a great asset for us."

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