Newcastle United have just nine games to save their English Premier League status, a task which was not helped by defeat away to Liverpool on Saturday at Anfield.
The 2-0 win for the Reds and results elsewhere on Saturday mean the Magpies have dropped down into 16th position in the table, just two points above the relegation zone.
While victory was not expected against Jurgen Klopp’s side was not expected, the fact remains that Newcastle are in a very perilous position heading into the final stages of the season, with three of last nine matches against teams also battling relegation.
Fans were disappointed with manner of defeat on Saturday, with particular criticism aimed at their midfield and Mikel Merino.
The 21-year-old Spaniard is still developing as a player but looked well off the pace at Anfield, struggling to get to grips with the game or offer any defensive support to an under-pressure defensive line.
Supporters are hoping to see better from the summer signing and took to Twitter to share their thoughts on his performance…
Merino looks half the player he was when he first signed, looks very lazy and lacks fight, needs to step up with Shelvey missing #NUFC
— Tom Hunter (@tom_hunter98) March 4, 2018
Worst thing the toon did was give Merino a full time contract. He looked a proper player before he signed on the dotted line. #NUFC
— Steven Brett (@brettsteven1) March 3, 2018
Thought Diame and Merino – both – had a shocking defensive effort on the second goal. Literally WALKING behind Firmino. That is the stuff that’s unacceptable. Especially when we’d hardly gone forward all day. #NUFC
— The Exiled Geordies🎙 (@NUFC_Podcast) March 3, 2018
Is Mikel Merino the 2018 "Hugo Viana"?#NUFC
— Burnsie 🎯⚽ NUFC ⚽🎯 (@BenArfaChance) March 3, 2018
Best & worst #NUFC players from today folks?
Personally thought Dummett & Lejeune were good, but was not impressed by Kenedy and Merino. Murphy largely ineffective too..
— Black&WhiteBarmy (@BlackWhiteBarmy) March 3, 2018
Gerrard ripping into Diame and Merino. 100% correct Merino didn't want to know about it today nor is he up to it. Dreadful. Shocking from an experience player like Diame too. Hopefully Rafa will light a few fires off them both. #nufc
— Ciaran Neary (@CiaranNeary) March 3, 2018
Thought Merino and Kennedy were poor today #nufc
— @Bristol_NUFC (@Bristol_NUFC) March 3, 2018
Merino’s had an absolute stinker #nufc
— Michael Pullan (@michaelpullan) March 3, 2018
Merino still not up to it as he was at the start of the season. I think he just needs to be given time. We've seen his quality, but just seems incapable to getting back to that level atm. Patience needed with him, although it's not something there's much of at this stage. #NUFC
— NUFC 360 (@NUFC360) March 3, 2018
Said it before will say it again. Merino – not good enough/not good enough yet. #NUFC
— Jake Sansom (@jakeysana) March 3, 2018
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