Flawed: Newcastle’s McClaren tries to rally “most frustrating team” he’s worked with

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Steve McClaren isn’t protecting his relegation-battling players as Newcastle United ends a long lay-off with a Wednesday match against Stoke City.

The Magpies manager said his team has a “character flaw” in its inconsistent play, and that was just the tip of his critical iceberg.

[ MORE: Premier League Tuesday roundup ]

Calling their woeful road record “not good enough”, McClaren tore into his team on Tuesday. Newcastle hasn’t played in 18 days — since a 5-1 defeat against Chelsea —  and took a “training camp” away from England.

From The Guardian:

“This is the most frustrating team I’ve worked with,” he said. “We see fantastic performances from individuals one week and we look capable of beating anyone, then the next week it’s the polar opposite and we can lose by five or six goals.

“That inconsistency is a character flaw we have got to put right. We’ve scored seven goals away, that’s the lowest number in the league and it’s not good enough. We have to start demonstrating character away from home. It’s about having courage. Too many times we’ve had things go against us in games and not reacted very well.”

The Magpies are tied with three teams on 24 points but their poor goal differential has them 19th. The good news is they have two matches-in-hand on Sunderland and Norwich.

Bournemouth has begun to pull away from the pack, while Crystal Palace — coached by former Newcastle boss Alan Pardew — has dropped into the battle.

Crystal Palace 28 9 6 13 31 37 -6 4-2-8 5-4-5 33
Bournemouth 28 8 8 12 32 44 -12 4-4-6 4-4-6 32
Swansea City 27 6 9 12 25 36 -11 4-5-5 2-4-7 27
Sunderland 28 6 6 16 34 53 -19 4-4-6 2-2-10 24

Norwich City 28 6 6 16 31 53 -22 4-4-6 2-2-10 24
Newcastle United 26 6 6 14 27 49 -22 4-5-4 2-1-10 24
Aston Villa 28 3 7 18 22 51 -29 2-4-8 1-3-10 16