Steve McClaren trying to keep cool as Newcastle look to avoid relegation
Steve McClaren is "paddling like mad" below the surface as he attempts to keep the mood positive at struggling Newcastle.
The Magpies have slipped back into the Barclays Premier League relegation zone after taking just a single point from their last three games against Aston Villa, Everton and West Brom.
Some fans were baffled by head coach McClaren's upbeat assessment of his team's prospects in the wake of Monday's 1-0 defeat at the Hawthorns, but he is working hard to keep spirits up.
"Believe me, under the surface, I am paddling like mad," the former England boss said. "But we have a little bit more information than everyone else. We know what we have got and what we are trying to do.
"We feel as if we are getting there after a tough start. That is the first half of the season gone. 2015 is about to end - good. We cannot wait for the next year.
"It has not been good enough and that is why we are in the bottom three. That is where we are realistic and we need to do something about it - and we will do."
The new year needs to bring drastically enhanced fortunes if Newcastle are to drag themselves out of trouble after a desperately disappointing 12 months since Alan Pardew left the club.
They have collected just 30 points from 38 league games during 2015 and have managed only 17 of those in 19 outings under McClaren.
Things are unlikely to get any easier on Saturday against current leaders Arsenal, but McClaren is keeping positive.
Asked if he is worried by the situation, the 54-year-old said: "No, there are 19 games to go.
"It would worry me if they weren't giving attitude, effort, weren't being bright around the place, weren't playing as committed as they were, weren't creating chances as we are, playing the football that we are.
"We are just not getting the results from that. That will have to turn, that will have to change and, with 19 games to go, we will have to do it very quickly.
"I'm quite a realist. I do know what is happening and I try not to pull the wool over too many people's eyes. I'm very positive with this group and this squad. I always have been.
"We had a tough start, but since then we have collected points and shown we can compete with anyone on our day."