Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer has accused the players of bottling their relegation battle.
Shearer wrote in The Sun: "It is fine wanting the ball and expressing yourself when things are going well - as they were last season.
"The real characters come to the fore when things are going wrong and, right now, this team does not have enough of them.
"And the pressure on them will only grow the longer this perilous situation goes on.
"Much as I hate to say it, there are a few in the black and white who could learn a lesson from their rivals at Sunderland.
"Ever since I said in this column that Martin O'Neill's men were looking destined for the drop, they have been climbing the table."