Newcastle United must go back to the drawing board – that’s the view of Magpie skipper Jamaal Lascelles.
The 24-year-old only returned to the United starting XI last week, and it’s no shock the goals against column has been steadied since he came back into the fold.
United became too easy to score against in his absence, despite looking much more of a threat at the other end.
This switch by manager Rafa Benitez, which included an out-of-character spell playing two up front, has ultimately proved fruitless with the Magpies on a nine-game winless run, eight of which have ended in defeat.
Heading to West Ham United’s London Stadium tomorrow, Lascelles hopes United can go back to basics.
He wants the players to start doing what served them so well at the start of the Premier League campaign.
And first and foremost, United need to make themselves hard to beat again.
“It is important for us all to stick together and really get back to the drawing board and basics,” said the former Nottingham Forest and England youth international.
“Look back at how we started the season.
“I thought the positives [since Everton] have been our organisation. It was really good and our team shape and tactically as well.
“But we just needed that cutting edge.
“And with the manager and players we have here, we can definitely sort that out.”
Having been on a slump stretching back to October, many have questioned whether United have the character in the dressing room to turn things around.
Lascelles says that is not a notion that has ever crossed his mind.
He knows there is the ability, the graft and the desire to start getting things right at St James’s Park.
“Course there is,” he said when asked whether the squad had the right characters to sort this mess out.
“It’s been frustrating for me when I’ve not been playing for six games or so.
“But now that I am back, I’m definitely going to be on to people.
“It’s not like the boys are not working hard – there’s none of that so that is a good thing.
“Not like a few years back when I had a go at people. It’s nothing like that at all.
“Not, it’s just about working hard as a team, sticking together, looking back on how well we were doing (at start of season) compared to now.”
The potential takeover of Newcastle is on the tip of everyone’s tongue on Tyneside at present.
And it’s no secret that it’s being talked about behind the scenes and on the training pitches at United.
But, when asked about it, Lascelles prefers to talk about matters he can change – things on the park.
“We’re not focusing on that. It has nothing to do with us,” he said.