Steve McClaren has been frantically backtracking on the targets he agreed with Mike Ashley before the start of the season.

With Newcastle in danger of dropping back into the relegation zone if Everton win at St James Park today, McClaren is keen to dismiss what he agreed to when he took the job back in June.

When talking over at Newcastle, Steve McClaren said that he had accepted the objective set by Mike Ashley, which was to finish top eight and attempt to win a cup.

McClaren even saying at the time ‘that’s what we must achieve’.

However, now in 17th place in the Premier League and knocked out of the League Cup by Sheffield Wednesday reserves at home, the Head Coach now wants to talk about ‘We had a new manager and new players and there was the aftermath of last season’.

Not what you would expect Mike Ashley will be wanting to hear, any more than the supporters do, especially after over £50m was spent in the summer.

Last season Leicester were almost relegated and have a new manager yet are top, whilst Watford were promoted, changed manager and brought in some 15 new players but are 7th – examples which no doubt McClaren will be being reminded of behind the scenes.

Steve McClaren 11 June 2015

“This club has waited far too long to win a trophy. That’s one of my primary objectives here. I’ve already won trophies as a manager and a club the size of Newcastle United should be winning cups and finishing in the top eight in the Premier League.

“The objective is top eight and to win a trophy.

“That’s something that has been transmitted to me through meetings with managing director Lee Charnley and the rest of the board. That’s what we want to achieve, that’s what we must achieve together.

“If we can get the right recruitment and we get the right resources as well, this club can take off. There is a lot of work to do, but the club has made it clear about wanting success, and I would not have come here if I didn’t believe they were serious.

“This club has waited far too long to win a trophy. That’s one of my primary objectives here. I’ve already won trophies as a manager and a club the size of Newcastle United should be winning cups and finishing in the top eight in the Premier League.

“I’m determined to give the supporters of Newcastle United a team they can be proud of. The hard work starts now.”

Steve McClaren 26 December 2015

“You always have to make targets but I don’t think we ever knew where we’d finish.  We had a new manager and new players and there was the aftermath of last season. It was very much an unknown.

“We originally said we would look at it (target for season] after 10 or 12 games but then someone said that after 19 games is usually the time to judge. We have two more games to go until then. We are not even halfway through yet, so let’s see where we finish.

“We want to have a better second half of the season. We need to be a damn sight better, I can’t guarantee we will be better but we’re working and working and seeing progress. We need a better 2016 than 2015. There wasn’t a lot to cheer about all through the year. It has not been good enough. We need more consistency.”