Newcastle manager Alan Pardew admits his team are in danger of being dragged into a relegation scrap after losing their fourth successive Premier League game at Stoke on Wednesday night.
Pardew's honest assessment of his side's slump may stun a few Newcastle followers who will not have seen their manager in such a downbeat mood after a run of almost relentless success since his arrival at the club in December 2010.
However, Pardew has clearly decided the time has come to remind his Europa League stars that they need to get back to winning ways quickly to avoid being sucked into a fight to save their top flight status.
"Our pre-season ambition to aim for the Champions League this season seems a long way off now and it's not too early to talk about being dragged into it at the bottom," he said. "We can't bury our heads in the sand and we have to get some wins to get out of it."
Pardew has admitted he is concerned by the lack of depth in a squad that has been torn apart by injuries in recent weeks, with Steven Taylor and Yohan Cabaye the most recent entries on their long-term injury list.
With Cheick Tiote set to head off for African Nations Cup duty next month, Pardew's resources are set to be stretched further and he has been forced to 'tweak a few things' in his team in a bid to turn the tide flowing against his team.
"All of us have to believe it is going to change for us and I'm convinced it will," Pardew said. "Having looked at our recent performances, I've made a few changes and I'm optimistic that they will bear some fruit in the next few games.
"The improvement in performance at Stoke suggested we have already taken a step forward and the things we have changed definitely seem to have helped the team. The players have responded and hopefully that bodes well.
"We deserved so much more at Stoke. We could have been 2-0 ahead before they got back into the game after 78 minutes and it's hard to look your players in the eye and find any fault with them when they have followed a game plan and put in a great performance.
"I am not looking for any excuses. We just have to keep going and get the vital win against Wigan on Monday that could turn it all around."