Cutting through all the spin put out by the club, the simple fact is that Newcastle United are a toss of the coin away from being in the bottom three on Christmas Day.

Steve McClaren is Mike Ashley’s main tool for the positive spin these days but when you are eating your turkey and sprouts, the table will tell you that Newcastle are prime relegation candidates if Swansea win on Sunday afternoon.

The bookies make the Swans even money to beat West Ham, a team who haven’t won in over two months.

Swansea’s form has been just as bad but you just know deep down that they will get the three points that dump Newcastle back into the relegation zone with Sunderland and Aston Villa.

Saturday was a golden chance to totally finish off Villa and put clear daylight between Newcastle and the bottom three, a performance as poor as the weather ensured that wasn’t to be.

Newcastle fluked a win at Bournemouth, got a smash and grab at Spurs and stifled Liverpool with a battling display.

However, after 17 matches you deserve to be where you end up.

Steve McClaren insists that Newcastle are ‘more competive than most’.

Let’s hope that they start showing that in their attacking play because it has been sorely lacking so far.

Steve McClaren:

“Ten games ago we’d have lost that one…but I was impressed with the way the team came back strong.

 “Over the last 10 games we have looked to do this system, we have adjusted a couple of times but we are playing as a team now.

“We are sticking together as a team, maybe we won’t win every game but we’re more competitive than most.

 “The last three games there have been huge steps forward and we wanted a massive one against Villa but it wasn’t to be.”