Steve McClaren admitted he considered dropping all of his players ahead of Newcastle United’s win over Liverpool.
A strike from Georginio Wijnaldum and an own goal from Martin Skrtel saw Jurgen Klopp’s side beaten 2-0 at St James’s Park yesterday.
The result, which lifted the club above Sunderland in the Premier League table, came eight days after an embarrassing 5-1 hammering at Crystal Palace.
And the club’s head coach – who had been installed as the favourite to be the Premier League’s next managerial casualty after the loss at Selhurst Park – considered axing most of his players, including Wijnaldum, in the build-up to the match.
But McClaren made just one change – Siem de Jong started ahead of Ayoze Perez – and he was rewarded by his team.
Asked about his team selection, McClaren said: “I’d considered leaving out every one of them.
“We reviewed the last two weeks and we weren’t happy. That was stated, but the response from everybody has been great.”
McClaren – whose team are level on points with 17th-placed Bournemouth – decided on his starting XI on Thursday night.
And he resisted calls to drop out-of-form captain Fabricio Coloccini and under-performing midfielder Moussa Sissoko.
“We’ve had a tough week in terms of looking at various things and changing personnel,” said McClaren, whose options were limited by injuries and a lack of squad depth.
I’d considered leaving out every one of them. We reviewed the last two weeks and we weren’t happy. That was stated, but the response from everybody has been great.Steve McClaren
“There was kind of a lightbulb moment on Thursday evening.
“We just said ‘look, more or less that team that started before the last two was collecting points and playing well’.
“It was just a case of people working hard and out-running opponents.
“We’d pointed out why we lost the last two games, and we gave everybody an opportunity to put that right, and they’ve done that.”