Steve McClaren says he’s quickly finding out who is with him at Newcastle United – and who is not.
McClaren’s side are bottom of the Premier League – despite a £50million-plus spend in the summer.
We want players here who are committed to what we’re trying to do, who are committed to Newcastle and the dressing-room and the whole club and the fans and that’s going into any club.Steve McClaren
The first two months of the season have underlined the need for more investment in January.
There will also be departures in the next transfer window.
And McClaren, speaking ahead of Sunday’s home game against Norwich City, is assessing his squad, on the pitch and in the dressing room, between now and then.
The head coach, tasked with guiding the club to a top-eight finish after his appointment in June, only wants players who are fully committed to the club.
Asked if his players are playing for their futures, McClaren said: “Players at every club are, unless they’ve got a huge contract, but even then.
“We want players here who are committed to what we’re trying to do, who are committed to Newcastle and the dressing-room and the whole club and the fans and that’s going into any club.
“Sam (Allardyce) will be doing exactly the same over at Sunderland: who is with me, who is not?
“That’s what we’re doing here. Who is with us, who is not?”
Newcastle were beaten 6-1 by Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium before the international break.
The team, which led through an Aleksandar Mitrovic goal, capitulated after the break.
And the dressing room, worryingly, was silent after the game.
McClaren needs leaders on and off the pitch, and he is “getting an idea” of those players who have the ability and attitude needed to take the club forward.
Asked if he would draw conclusions about the character of his players between now and the New Year, McClaren said: “Absolutely.
“We’re getting a fair idea at the present moment. Yeah, that’ll start to hot up, the nearer that comes, but that’s behind everything.
“The most important thing is what’s in front of us – and that’s Norwich.”
McClaren – who signed a three-year contract in June – feels he is making “progress”, despite a poor sequence of results.
And he is adamant he can cope with the pressure of managing United, a club which has long been labelled “unmanageable”.
“This job is pressure,” said the 54-year-old. “What you can’t make it is a stress or an anxiety.
“It’s just a pressure because we went to win the next game. And then we want to win the next one and the next one.
“As a manager, you’re always under pressure and that’s not just outside, it’s internal anyway.”
Newcastle have already played last season’s top four, and McClaren says he was braced for a difficult start on Tyneside.
“We knew that this was going to be a tough start,” he said.
“And we said that these set of fixtures now is where our season has got to begin.
“We enter it not having won a game – we’ve been close to it and we’re progressing – but we haven’t won, so that creates pressure.
“And I’ve always said to the players the pressure we put on them is the pressure to perform, the pressure to have attitude and fight for 95 minutes.
“We’ve just seen two performances of 45 minutes (against City and Chelsea), and if I’d have gone home at that point, I’d have been absolutely delighted and said ‘that’s the way I want you to play’.
“Against Chelsea, second half, we fought. We didn’t particularly play well, but we fought and had attitude and fight.
“And against Man City in the second half we got killed in four minutes, three goals. We shot ourselves in the foot and you can’t recover from that.
“We got punished by a good team and good players.”
Meanwhile, McClaren will welcome back a clutch of players from injury for the Norwich game.
Jack Colback, Massadio Haidara and Paul Dummett are all expected to be available, while Daryl Janmaat is fit, having missed Holland’s two Euro 2016 qualifiers with a knee problem.
“Janmaat’s trained for the last couple of days, and Colback, Haidara and Dummett have all trained too,” said McClaren.
“They’re all in contention for the weekend.”