STEVEN Taylor says Newcastle United’s players have to stand up and be counted – or else face relegation from the Premier League.
Manager Alan Pardew is fighting to save his job in the wake of Saturday’s 6-0 humiliation at the hands over Liverpool.
The result left United perilously close to the relegation zone with three games left to play.
Newcastle are five points ahead of third-from-bottom Wigan Athletic – who have a game in hand – ahead of Saturday’s match against West Ham United.
Taylor went through the agony of relegation four years ago.
And the defender says togetherness will be the key between now and the end of a troubled season.
“This weekend has been the worst of my career, and surely for the rest of the lads – it’s got to be,” Taylor said.
“We have to accept the criticism that comes our way. It’ll be fully deserved.
“We have three games left to go, and it’s important that we stick together. You’ve heard that word a lot in the past six months, but in the last four years it’s the most important time to stick together.
“If we don’t, we’ll crumble. You can’t have even one person not pulling their weight. If so, they will let everybody down.
“We have to be as one. We’ve got that in the locker.
“We’ve got the players and ability, but we can’t sulk. We must take it firmly on the chin.
“We know we can do it. We’ve done it against Chelsea and Anzhi in big games. Now we have to deliver.
“There’s no way we can go a goal down, (and) then start to play. We have to be more positive.
“We’ve had two massive defeats, Sunderland 3-0 and Liverpool 6-0. If that doesn’t hurt us, then we need a big wake-up call.
“It’s just a sickly feeling. I feel sick in the gut.
“I just want to apologise to every fan who came to the game, and every fan who watched on ESPN, and everybody who is associated with the football club, really.
“It’s a horrible, horrible feeling for us.”
Liverpool dominated from the first whistle – Daniel Agger opened the scoring in the third minute – and Newcastle’s performance steadily unravelled over the course of the game.
“In the first five minutes we were so open,” said Taylor, one of only two players to speak to the media after the game.
“Liverpool came here and they played how they wanted to play.
“They were allowed to do what they wanted. They controlled the game they wanted to. They you have to give them credit, they played very well with the gameplan they had.
“Every single one of us have to hold our hands up and take it on the chin. It wasn’t good enough.
“The fans watching could see that. It’s disappointing for us because not only have we let ourselves down as a team, we let our manager down.
“Most of all we let the fans down.”