Are Newcastle United Any Better Off With Steve McLaren In Charge?


After Newcastle United survived relegation by the skin of their teeth last season, owner Mike Ashley made a rare appearance in front of the cameras to tell the Toon support he wanted to bring some success to St James’ Park.

He talked of trophies and a Champions League spot… But many seen it as just being talk and his ambitions were solely down to gaining as much profit from the club as possible.

The club splashed out around £45m on new talent this preseason. They also brought in a new boss in Steve McLaren.

But after five fixtures the Magpies find themselves bottom of the Premier League.

Not a lot seems to have happened that suggests Newcastle Utd are much better off now than they were at the end of the last campaign.

Once again they have gone out and bought potential and missed out on experience proven buys.

Now potential isn’t always realised and even when it looks likely that the Toon have found a gem they will sell him on before the Newcastle faithful can see him at his best.

For example look at the Florian Thauvin deal.

Newcastle paid Marseille £12m for the young French winger. But any keen observer of French domestic football warned that the twenty-two year old was inconsistent and may have attitude problems (Just look at the way he forced a move away from Lille in 2013).

He looked eager at Old Trafford and done well in the League Cup against Northampton but was pretty anonymous last night against West Ham.

Then you look at the Hammers match winner, one Dimitri Payet. He too left Marseille this summer but the difference is that Payet is the finished product. He proved that with his fifteen goals and twenty assists in his previous two seasons in the Côte d’Azur, while Thauvin managed thirteen strikes and just seven assists over the same timescale.

Now Thauvin has great skill and talent, of that there is no doubt. But as I’ve already said before, if he comes good then he’ll be off to a bigger side as Ashley pockets a profit.

But Payet, who cost less this summer, already offers you a finished article and that can be the difference between a top half and a bottom half finish in the Barclays Premier League.

Potentially good young players can be very hit and miss and without a solid backbone of good experienced teammates then you get too many inconsistent performances. That kind of sums up Newcastle Utd at the moment.

If new midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum continues his impressive start to the season, then I’d imagine that he will be the next on the radar of sides that seem to handpick the Toons best players.

In London last night, one time top performer Moussa Sissoko often looked lost and struggled to keep possession. The Geordie fans will hope it’s just a blip in form and not the start of a decline that they have seen in Cheick Tiote.

Fabricio Coloccini can have extremely solid performances like the one he had against Man United earlier this term but the Argentine defender can also provide clumsy and error strewn performances. The fact is that centre-half has shown more of the poorer side of his game in 2015!

Then there is McLaren’s biggest problem… Getting goals!

New boy Aleksandar Mitrovic looks a big handful. But unfortunately the young Serbian striker has managed to pick up two yellows and one red card in his first four league appearances (two of which were as a sub). The hitman needs to calm down and start finding the net. I am sure he’ll do that but to what effect I am not certain.

Papiss Cisse had a whirlwind start to his Newcastle career and looked like a real world beater when he arrived. But he didn’t really step up from those heady heights of 2012. He just seems to lack much interest these days and doesn’t offer enough when he plays.

I still cannot understand why McLaren didn’t sign up Charlie Austin for £15m this preseason. Austin proved himself in tEngland’s top flight last season with his eighteen goals for QPR. He already leads the Championships scoring charts with five goals this term. Again it just seems that Newcastle will gamble more on a young foreign import rather than but a proven Premier League player!

Giving Steve McLaren a position on the board was just bizarre in my opinion. What does he do come Christmas and Newcastle Utd are still in the relegation zone, sack himself ?!

Steve is a decent coach and did well at Middlesbrough and in Holland with FC Twente but his CV is also full of underwhelming  stints. Even at Derby County last year, the way it all collapsed should have raised alarm bells for any potential suitors.

I have no doubt that he will pick up more positive results in the near future with his new side. He isn’t as bad as John Carver, who cracked under the pressure of managing such a big club. But I doubt McLaren can emulate other former England coaches; Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson, and become a Newcastle United legend.

I just feel that the club still take their fan-base for granted. They lack any real ambition and their play sums that up.

How different it could have been had they also added more reliable purchases to supplement the potential. Plus bring in a manager who would have lead a revolution.

But such talk isn’t the music to the ears for a certain sports shop supremo.

2 Responses to “Are Newcastle United Any Better Off With Steve McLaren In Charge?”

  1. I beg to differ with the author on this point, but I feel Newcastle did not buy ‘potential’ this past summer. Newcastle was buying strictly for sell on value and the simple fact that players are acquired to make money for the owner is quite obvious on the pitch. If the current management had their way, we would have 11 right wingers if management felt it could double the initial transfer outlay.

    Nothing will change until the current owner sells up and leaves for good.

  2. There are some good points made here about the current side. Putting the arguments about ownership/Maclaren to one side for a moment Newcastle have another potentially difficult season ahead. The current squad is talented but desperately in short certain areas and lacking quality in some respects. The points made here about Sissoko, Thauvin, Cisse etc are bang on. Added to this, defensively, as ever, Newcastle have big problems. Any big, domineering forward will have success againt Colo/Mbemba as Troy Deeney and Graziano Pelle already have. Despite them both being fine players they lack physical presence. Massadio Haidara’s form is shockingly bad defensively and going forward and Paul Dummet(who is better in the centre) is the only cover. There is no out and out cover for Jamnaat either. Maclaren must establish a more coherent transfer policy in January and beyond or Newcastle will perpetually be struggling. I won’t even start with the issues about formation, tactics coaching and player development…

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