Alan Shearer admits Newcastle will have to win their last three home matches to have any chance of avoiding relegation from the Premier League.
Shearer’s side slumped to a lackluster 1-0 defeat at Tottenham on Sunday which left the Magpies four points from safety with only five matches to play.
With tough trips to Liverpool and Aston Villa in Newcastle’s last two away matches, Shearer knows they must beat Portsmouth, Middlesbrough and Fulham at St James’ Park.
“We’ll be expected to win those and we have to win those starting with next Monday against Portsmouth. My attention is now on that must-win game,” he said.
Newcastle will have to improve dramatically to win any of those matches on the evidence of their woeful effort in north London.
Their only shot of the first half came in the 24th minute, seconds before Spurs raced to the other end of the pitch, with Darren Bent finishing at the second attempt after Steve Harper saved his initial effort.
Shearer went for broke in the second half, sending on Australia forward Mark Viduka and Obafemi Martins.
Nigeria striker Martins provided something of an attacking spark and twice went close, while also having his handball effort chalked off and a penalty shout turned down by referee Mark Halsey following a challenge by Jonathan Woodgate.
But Tottenham would have won by more but for wayward finishing and Shearer conceded his team have to start matches a lot better if they are to give him a first win since replacing Joe Kinnear.
“I’ve just said to them, very pleased with the second half but give me an explanation why there’s no urgency like that from minute one,” Shearer said.
“We have our own ideas, our own theory as to why but we have to start games in the first minute like we finish them in the last 30 minutes,” he said.
Spurs still have a chance of a top-seven finish and Europa League soccer next season, but boss Harry Redknapp is waiting to find out the results of a scan after Michael Dawson injured his ankle in the first half.
“I’m not sure if it’s ligaments or a fracture but it looks quite nasty,” Redknapp said.
“I’d like to get into Europe. It would be a good achievement, fantastic. It’s not as important as staying up, that’s all they were talking about,” he said.
“Mr Levy [chairman Daniel Levy] hadn’t slept for weeks because he thought we were going to get relegated. I bet he’s sleeping now,” Redknapp said.
Meanwhile, Mark Hughes wants Brazilian star Robinho to prove his worth by inspiring Manchester City’s bid for European soccer.
Robinho ended his goal drought stretching back to Dec. 28 in Sunday’s 4-2 victory against West Brom.
The former Real Madrid star has struggled during the second half of the season and was dropped by Hughes for City’s previous league game against Fulham.
But he remains City’s most talented player and Hughes hopes he can recapture his early-season form to lift the Blues to a top-seven finish.
Hughes said: “We are pleased Robby is back on the goal trail. It is his first in 2009 and important for him.”
“As he has not been scoring, people have been highlighting that fact. But hopefully he will now go on a run again,” Hughes said.
After Robinho’s goal, Nedum Onuoha extended City’s lead in the 20th minute. But West Brom rallied and drew level thanks to a brace from Northern Ireland winger Chris Brunt.