Jason Burt told the Supplement that Newcastle are "completely drained of confidence", but is still backing the Magpies to pull away from relegation danger.
The St James' Park troop - who were dumped out of the FA Cup on Saturday by Championship outfit Brighton - are just two points clear of the Premier League drop zone after losing nine of their last 12 top-flight matches.
Alan Pardew's charges - who were beaten by Man United, Arsenal and Everton over the festive period - are also a striker down after top scorer Demba Ba elected to join Chelsea on Friday.
Telegraph writer Burt reckons Newcastle are in a real battle to preserve their Premier League status, but says with some shrewd acquisitions in January and some key players returning from injury, the Geordies should push on in the second half of the campaign.
"Pardew is being honest and saying that his team are not too good to go down - which is clearly the case - and they look completely drained of confidence," Burt said of a club that finished fifth in the elite division last term.
"They have spiralled and are almost going out on the pitch thinking: 'This is going to be difficult because our best player are not here', and I think they made a huge mistake in the summer by not buying two or three players."
"But January is going to be a huge month for Newcastle and they have to capitalise on Ba going and use that money to refresh the team.
"They have got (right-back) Mathieu Debuchy in, which is a good signing, and they are trying to get (Marseille striker) Loic Remy in which would be another good buy, and they will improve because they have (Hatem) Ben Arfa coming back from injury as well as Yohan Cabaye."
Burt does not believe that Magpies chief Pardew, who penned a new eight-year deal in September, is likely to be sacked by the United hierarchy.
But Sun scribe and Newcastle fan Shaun Custis could not hide his frustration at what he perceives as stagnation at the club.
"The eight-year contract is a bit of a red herring because if Newcastle sack Pardew tomorrow he is not going to get eight- years' worth of money, " said Burt. "There will be a fixed figure of compensation.
"If Newcastle are in grave danger of going down there will be pressure on Pardew, but I think the club still has an awful amount of faith in him. They have no intention of getting rid of him as he fits into the Newcastle structure very well."
Custis added: "Pardew was grateful to get the job (after being sacked by then League One Southampton) as at the time everyone was saying: 'Wow, how did he get that?'.
"So maybe he didn't feel he was in a big enough position of strength to ask for further reinforcements in pre-season - but, for me, it is back to the old Newcastle where the view is: 'It's okay if we stay up'."
"There is no ambition to push themselves into a top-four club."