Eddie Howe is concentrating on the “finest details” as he attempts to turn around the run of form which has seen Newcastle slip off the pace in the race for Champions League qualification.
Just a few weeks ago, the Magpies were sitting pretty in third place in the Premier League table and threatening to leave Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool scrapping for the remaining top-four berth with Chelsea well out of the picture.
However, a run of just one win in eight league games, including defeats by the Reds and Manchester City either side of their Carabao Cup final disappointment at the hands of United, has seen them slip to sixth ahead of Sunday’s clash with Wolves.
Asked about that recent slump, Howe said: “I think every team will go through that – tell me a team that hasn’t. But I think the key thing is how quickly you can come out of that moment and how you conduct yourselves through it and how you play through it.
“I’ve got to say, the players have been excellent so it’s not a case, as I say, that the performances have been poor and then you’re looking at poor results on the back of that.
“I found it very difficult after the Manchester City game. I was really proud of the effort, the commitment, the delivery of the game plan, just the finest details were missing.”
Twelve months ago, the Magpies were entrenched in a top-flight survival scrap and the fact they are even contesting the European places is remarkable despite the sizeable investment they have made in the three transfer windows since their new Saudi-backed owners arrived at St James’ Park.
However, that has simply served to raise expectation and impose a very different pressure upon Howe and his players.
Asked if he has been able to confine that to his work life rather than taking it home, he replied: “You’d have to ask other people, they’re probably a better judge than me. I’d say I try not to, I try not to walk through the door and take my emotions from my day with me.
“But I’m human, so I’m sure there is an element of that that is following me. But I try not to impart that on to anyone else, especially if it’s negative, of course.”
Newcastle will be without suspended midfielder Joelinton for Sunday’s game, but defender Fabian Schar should be available after missing the trip to the Etihad Stadium under concussion protocols.