Eddie Howe has been tasked with keeping Newcastle in the Premier League but a crushing 4-0 defeat to Leicester and an unenviable festive fixture list has piled on the pressure.
Fresh from beating Burnley for their first win of the season earlier this month, any confidence Newcastle gained was immediately eroded after their pummelling at the King Power Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Here, the PA news agency looks at the state of affairs in the north-east and whether is any room for optimism.
What has gone wrong?
Newcastle looked to have turned a corner after edging out relegation rivals Burnley on December 4 and even did a lap of honour round St James’ Park to commemorate a maiden victory from 15 attempts this season. But a calamitous second-half showing in the midlands has led to a familiar sinking feeling. Some defeats are worse than others and having conceded three times after the break, they now lie three points adrift of safety, sitting above just rock-bottom Norwich in the standings on goal difference alone.
What can be done to correct course?
Cutting out individual errors would be a start, with Newcastle repeatedly the architects of their own downfall. They have kept only one clean sheet this season and have the worst defensive record in the league, conceding on average more than two goals per game. While under Howe, the Tynesiders are more expansive in their approach than they were when Steve Bruce was at the helm, their leaky defence and numerous gaffes have led to their undoing on a number of occasions.
What can Howe do?
January – and the chance to add some much-needed reinforcements – still looks some way off. A trip to Liverpool is next, while Newcastle will play both Manchester clubs before a return to Merseyside and a reunion with former boss Rafael Benitez at Everton comes ahead of the transfer widow opening. The Magpies cannot dwell on their shellacking at Leicester and Howe has to ensure a repeat is avoided. If they can get something, anything, from any of the next few games, it would be a triumph.
Is there any reason for hope?
It looks unlikely in the short-term. But taking on Liverpool and Manchester City before Christmas are hospital passes for Howe. Even one point from six is an added bonus. More realistically, Newcastle will be looking to next month and the chance to add ballast to their backline and some impetus going forward. Jesse Lingard, on the fringes at Manchester United, has been heavily linked with a move, as has Lille defender Sven Botman. A marquee signing could be high on the agenda for the Saudi-led consortium that took over Newcastle earlier this year. Whether a high-profile player would head to a club in such a dire predicament and scrapping to avoid relegation is another matter.