Opinion: Why the next five games are crucial for Newcastle United's survival
Ayoze Perez, Newcastle's young Spanish forward. The Guardian.

Last season, Newcastle United had a painfully slow start to their campaign. It wasn’t until mid-October before they had their first win on the board. However, the win against Leicester kick-started their campaign and saw Newcastle win six games on the bounce, including wins against away wins at Tottenham, Manchester City and West Brom as well as home wins against Liverpool, unbeaten Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers respectively. This winning streak was the only reason Newcastle avoided relegation and the club need something similar to this run to kick-start their season.

No longer fighting for one another

Ayoze Perez was one of the main reasons for this, his delightful back flick was arguably his highlight of the campaign, and the team as a whole were playing well with players fighting for each other and a robustness at the back that is not usually associated with Newcastle sides of late. However, these characteristics have not been seen under McClaren.

In the next five games, Newcastle will play four of the teams that they beat in last season’s revival. Newcastle will need big performances from the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum, Ayoze Perez and Aleksandar Mitrovic. Three exciting talents on their day, however these days have been numbered this season. Newcastle’s experienced players such as Moussa Sissoko, Jack Colback and Fabricio Coloccini simply have not been good enough this season. However, with other teams such as Bournemouth, Aston Villa and rivals Sunderland also struggling, Newcastle will be able to drag themselves out of the relegation zone and start to look up, rather than down if they are able to put three or four good performances in.

Must start now

This must start against Liverpool on Sunday. Liverpool have been in great form since Jurgen Klopp’s appointment. They put Southampton to the sword in mid-week, coming from behind to win 6-1. Many Newcastle fans fear a similar score line to this one come Sunday, however, if Newcastle have a similar game plan to last season and are able to be steady at the back then Newcastle should stop worrying so much. The club have an abundance of attacking talent, one of whom being Florian Thauvin. He is yet to get a real go in the side yet so could this be his chance to prove critics wrong. If Newcastle aren’t able to put in a good performance against Klopp’s Liverpool, then Mike Ashley will be ever closing to telling McClaren that his days as Newcastle United manager are over.