Warren Joyce reckons Wigan Athletic need to add ‘more devilment in the box and more belief’ to stop the rot.
Latics failed to score for the fifth game in a row at home - a run stretching back to September 27 - as Newcastle ran out comfortable 2-0 winners at the DW Stadium.
The home side, for all their possession in good areas, barely tested Toon goalkeeper Karl Darlow, and had no answer to goals from Momo Diame and Christian Atsu in either half.
Latics remain rooted to second-bottom of the Championship ahead of crucial back-to-back fixtures against fellow strugglers Ipswich and Rotherham.
And Joyce reckons they need to sort things out in the final third if they are to have any hope of climbing the table.
“We knew before the game it was going to be a tough one, but I thought we gave a good account of ourselves,” the Latics chief acknowledged.
“It’s just frustrating to end up again with nothing.
“I thought we were good value for a goal during our good period at the start of the second half.
“We had some good efforts on goal, but even more frustrating there were opportunities where we didn’t even get contact to finish off good bits of play.
“There was no devilment, no real aggression to get a goal at the end of it.
“We need more devilment in the box, we need more belief.
“And we can’t afford to be carrying anyone who’s not quite at their own individual maximum.
“We need everyone absolutely flat out, and raising their own maximum level.”
Latics have won - and indeed scored in - only one of Joyce’s six games in charge, but the new boss does not feel that is an accurate reflection of the performances.
“I think in every game - bar Reading - we’ve always been in with a chance of winning it,” the Latics chief insisted.
“Even when we’ve gone goals down, we’ve looked like we’ve got ways of stopping the opposition from hurting us.
“I don’t think any of the top sides have come here and played us off the park, or cut through us, or carved us open, or given us a real problem, or made us look clueless.
“We’ve given away goals from poor individual errors, and we’ve given away another soft goal tonight.
“It could have been avoided, so could Derby’s winner, even the ‘worldie’ strike at Aston Villa on Saturday.
“Those fine margins, fine lines, cost you at this level.”
Latics suffered a double injury blow with defenders Luke Garbutt (back) and Craig Morgan (groin) limping off the field, adding to the problems ahead of the festive period.
“It’s another curve-ball, and they keep getting thrown at us,” mused Joyce.