Whilst Newcastle ended up making no signings in January, Bristol City went wholesale in trying to turn around their falling apart season.
After a promising start to the season, the West Country club have had a nightmare run of two wins in the last 18 league matches, leaving them only two points and one place off relegation.
Putting his faith in the new signings appears to have achieved little and six of those January new boys played in the home defeat to Fulham, when the team were booed off at half-time and full-time.
Manager Lee Johnson sees his job under threat and has said to his players ahead of the game at St James Park ‘The minimum standard now is to make sure we run around…’
Missing 21 goal striker Tammy Abraham through injury, Johnson wants his players to show ‘World class basics’ on Saturday and then ‘come off the field victorious knowing they’ve given everything they’ve got’.
Losing home and away to Blackburn had shown any Newcastle fans that nothing is for sure but of the 14 remaining matches, this one must be very high on Rafa’s list of must win games.
Newcastle need to get on the front foot and demoralise the visiting players still further.
No room for any mercy with so much at stake in this hopeful return to the Premier League.
“St James Park is a fantastic place to play and the players have to go there and enjoy it, having come off the field victorious knowing they’ve given everything they’ve got.
“We will feel like we’ve got a point to prove and we’ve got to go there and put in a good performance that people can be proud of.
“There cannot be any tittle tattle and, if anyone has something to say, they have to be honest it and say openly.
“If we are going to do the dirty work, then we are going to need world class basics. By that I mean guts and the core dynamics that you need to win football matches.
“We need characters now and ability almost comes second to desire to scrap and win the inches.
“The players have to make sure they are in the best physical state they can be in, they need to ensure they are in charge of their own destiny in terms of their confidence and attitude and they have to be able to deliver the game plan.
“We’ve had what can be described as a meeting and the key thing for me is to pick a team that I can trust, a team that I know will dig deep, get tight and do the basics well.
“The minimum standard now is to make sure we run around and do everything we can to try and get a result.
“In short, I have to pick a team at Newcastle that will give it a right go for all those Bristol City fans who are making the long trip up there. I have to pick a team that won’t hide.”