Steve Harper believes Steve McClaren will be given time to turn Newcastle United’s season around.
Newcastle are second-bottom in the Premier League after the 3-0 derby defeat to Sunderland, with just one league win in 10 games.
Harper says performances have been encouraging in spells.
But the 40-year-old insists McClaren’s squad MUST start producing the goods for the full 90 minutes – or face the consequences.
Harper said: “The performances have been OK, in patches, and you can see there are some good things in this team.
“By all accounts Aston Villa’s performances haven’t been great, which is why they have taken action.
“While the performances are OK then I think he [McClaren] will be given time, if that were to change then I think it would speed up any action they were going to take.
“The frustrating thing is there are signs there, Newcastle just need a 90-minute performance.
“They were excellent at Manchester City for 45 minutes and then got beat by 6, they did well in periods at Sunderland, it is just playing for 90 minutes.
“There are some good attacking signs but the Achilles heal is defensively as they always look like they will concede goals,” added Harper, who is without a club after leaving Hull City at the end of last season.
Harper felt the decision to send Fabricio Coloccini off was “harsh” but admitted Costel Pantilimon’s save against Aleksander Mitrovic with the score at 1-0 proved crucial.
He added: “Even with 10 men, Newcastle were probing and looking to create chances.
“The save by Pantilimon was a stunning save, a game changer as much as the red card. There was a nervousness around the Stadium of Light and even with 10 men, Newcastle may have gone on to win the game.
“It was a big, big save.”
Harper hopes Newcastle and Sunderland can both survive the drop.
He added: “The heavy defeat for Bournemouth will leave a few wounds, Norwich are sliding down and Villa are in real trouble. The sooner Newcastle and Sunderland start putting points on the board the better.”