Sunday 18 February 2018

McClaren feels the heat as Magpies fail to fire

Stoke City 1-0 Newcastle

Newcastle manager Steve McClaren looks dejected following his side's defeat Photo: Reuters / Carl Recine
Newcastle manager Steve McClaren looks dejected following his side's defeat Photo: Reuters / Carl Recine
Stoke City's Xherdan Shaqiri celebrates after scoring his side's winning goal Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire
Stoke City's Xherdan Shaqiri scores the sole goal of the game Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire
Stoke's Gianelli Imbula tries to shake off a challenge from Newcastle's Jack Colback Photo: Reuters / Carl Recine

John Percy

Steve McClaren is under increasing pressure to save his job after a sixth successive away defeat left his Newcastle side scrambling for their Premier League lives.

Newcastle remain in the relegation zone after Xherdan Shaqiri finally shattered the tedium of a turgid game with another spectacular goal.

Shaqiri's 80th-minute strike will crank up the tension on Tyneside and leaves McClaren scrapping to survive the season, with a crunch game against Bournemouth this weekend.

Newcastle's away record is making excruciating reading, with 17 defeats in 21 games. They are yet to record a point on their travels in 2016.

Stoke have now secured three wins in a row and are eyeing a place in the Europa League, with Shaqiri's excellent finish proving the difference. There appeared to be no danger when the Swiss winger picked up the loose ball but he bent an unerring shot past keeper Rob Elliot, who stood rooted to the goalline.

This victory lifted Stoke up into seventh place and only five points behind Manchester City; a challenge for a Champions League place is not out of the question in this crazy campaign.

McClaren has been stung by the criticism being hurled in his direction but he cannot use the default excuse of pointing the finger at the board for a lack of support in the transfer window.

After a week of reflection during a warm weather training camp in La Manga this was a bitterly cold welcome back to the Premier League for Newcastle.

Despite the star quality of McClaren's new recruits, the Britannia Stadium remains one of the ultimate tests of endurance for teams down on their luck.

Despite showing plenty of fight, they never really threatened the Stoke goal until they came agonisingly close to an equaliser in added time, with substitute Seydou Doumbia's shot on the turn brilliantly turned away by Jack Butland.

And Stoke nearly added a second a minute later when Marko Arnautovic struck the bar.

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