Steven Taylor claims Newcastle would not be in a relegation fight if Alan Shearer had been appointed earlier in the season.
Toon legend Shearer was brought in for the final eight games of the campaign due to Joe Kinnear's ill-health with the North East club battling to avoid demotion from the Premier League.
The former England captain has claimed just two points from his first five games at the helm and faces a pivotal fixture on Monday evening when fellow strugglers Middlesbrough arrive at St James' Park for the Tyne-Tees derby.
With just three games of the season remaining, Newcastle have a three-point gap to overhaul if they are to avoid dropping into the Championship.
And centre-back Taylor believes Shearer's strict approach to discipline will stand the Magpies in good stead over their final three fixtures.
He told the News of the World: "I just wish he had come in earlier. He is a very strict guy and everyone knows not to cross him. He has strict routines and that is how it should be at this club.
"He does not want any slackers. You have to be on time for everything. If you are late for anything you get a hefty fine.
That's how it is.
"There are no favourites at the club. The gaffer and Iain Dowie treat everybody exactly same.
"That's how it should be but it hasn't been at this club since I've been here. I'm now very confident and the lads are very confident that we can take maximum points from the last three games and stay in the top flight.
"Everyone is more upbeat now. Everyone is working harder. The heart-rate monitors show we are not slacking off and if you do, you come in for afternoon sessions. You have to work hard for him."