Steve McClaren’s admitted that Jamie Redknapp’s withering analysis of Newcastle United’s start at Stamford Bridge wasn’t far from the truth.
McClaren’s side were beaten 5-1 by Chelsea on Saturday.
Relegation-threatened Newcastle trailed 3-0 by the 17th minute, with Guus Hiddink’s side having taken full advantage of some shambolic defending.
And TV pundit and former Liverpool midfielder Redknapp said: “That was probably the worst 20 minutes I’ve ever seen from a Premier League side.”
United head coach McClaren, under intense pressure in the wake of the defeat, was asked about Redknapp’s assessment after the game, which saw the club drop back into the Premier League’s relegation zone.
McClaren said: “It wasn’t very good, and at 3-0 down, the scoreline was even worse.
“We talk a lot about the start of games, but we didn’t execute that very well. I think we got exposed, but the biggest thing was that we didn’t deal with the ball.
“We didn’t handle the ball, and when they pressed, we kept giving the ball away and giving them opportunities, and they took three.
“It’s very difficult to come back after that.
“We know they would start strongly, and they did it well.
“We weren’t able to play through their press. We gave the ball away cheaply at times, which gave us problems.
“The game was won and lost in the first 20 minutes. We’ve had that – we won the game (against West Bromwich Albion) in the first 15 minutes with the way we started – but we’ve lost it.”
McClaren and his players head to La Manga, Spain, tomorrow for a training camp and a friendly against Norwegian side Lillestrom.
And McClaren has conceded that there is a huge amnount of work to be done before March 2, when United resume an abject Premier League campaign with a game against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.
However, McClaren, aware of the anger felt on Tyneside in the wake of the Chelsea defeat, feels there is a need for “calmness” and “reflection”.
“They’re professionals, and all the anger and frustration has been expressed during the game and at half-time,” he said.
“Now it’s a time for reflection, with a bit of calmness, on what we have ahead, and making sure that with 12 games still to go we’re more consistent.
“We have to sort out what we’re doing away from home and get some points.
“We’ll have a look at some of the tracking for the goals, but I think the biggest disappointment is the way that we gave the ball away quite cheaply.
“When you do that against a top team, and against five good attackers like Chelsea have, then you’ll be in trouble.
“They’re so quick on the counter-attack and on the transition that as soon as you give the ball away, it’s very difficult to recover in time.
“I think that’s what happened in the first 20 minutes, and we were shell-shocked to be 3-0 down.”
McClaren had again fielded winger Rolando Aarons out of position at left-back, while centre-half Steven Taylor was only playing his second game back from a five-month spell on the sidelines.
“We didn’t have the ideal back four that you would need in terms of stability when you come to somewhere like this,” said McClaren.
“Steven Taylor was playing his second game in six or seven months, and Rolando Aarons – who was tremendous last week – had to play at left-back again.
“He’s only a young lad, and he needs more help from the experience around him.”