Newcastle's defeat to Blackburn Rovers saw United slip to second place in the league following Brighton’s 2-1 victory over Fulham. The Seagulls are now two points ahead of Newcastle with a game in hand. Reading occupy third place and now sit just six points behind Rafa Benitez’ men, also with a game in hand.
Newcastle have suffered two defeats in their last three games, but captain Jamaal Lascelles is eager to recover quickly from what he describes as a “blip.”
“There is nothing to worry about,” insists Lascelles. “We lost our first two games at the start the season, and we still managed to get over 50 points. So, this is the second half of the season.”
The 23-year-old refused to start panicking by stating: “We’ve started off with a little blip, but we’ll pick it back up and prepare for the next game.”
Newcastle face an FA Cup tie against Birmingham City on Saturday with trio Mohamed Diame, Christian Atsu and Chancel Mbemba all unavailable due to the African Cup of Nations. Jonjo Shelvey will also miss his fourth game of his five-match ban.
Lascelles says the players would be taking the competitions just as seriously as the league. “We’re just going to go to St Andrew’s and try to win,” he added.
The Englishman also stressed the importance of momentum because it “breeds confidence.”
A second-half free-kick from defender Charlie Mulgrew saw Rovers complete the double over United who were backed by almost 7,00 fans.
The Magpies skipper revealed the team were “very disappointed” to lose a game they “controlled from start to finish.”
“We needed to be more ruthless,” admitted Lascelles. “But then again in other games we have been very ruthless, so it’s nothing to worry about if you look at it overall.” he added.
Newcastle had a number of chances at Ewood Park but were unable to find a way past goalkeeper Jason Steel.
“I think they only had one shot on target, which was the free-kick, we just need to put our chances away.” said the Magpies skipper.
He described Blackburn doing the double over his side as “not acceptable at all” and admitted the players need to “learn how to control games better.”
“We’ve only drawn one game this season. We need to turn these sorts of games into draws.”
Lascelles is keen to put United’s form right and Newcastle will go to Birmingham on Saturday with a point to prove. The fringe players will no doubt be eager to give Benitez something to think about, if given the opportunity, in what is sure to be a tough cup tie.