Sunday, July 23, 2017

Some things never change at Newcastle

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 30 Nov 2015

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Newcastle boss Steve McClaren is under major pressure after the Magpies poor start to the campaign

Newcastle boss Steve McClaren is under major pressure after the Magpies poor start to the campaign

I have to admit I have a soft spot for Newcastle as a football club. I believe it stems from the days of Kevin Keegan as manager and Andy Cole banging in the goals up front.

Those were the same days that saw the Magpies at the top of the Premier League table challenging Manchester United for the title.

Unfortunately for the fans their currently situation is worlds away from those heady times.

On Saturday the side from the north east suffered a demoralising 5-1 defeat at Crystal Palace to slump back into the relegation zone.

What would have made the day even worse for Geordies would have been the fact that arch-rivals Sunderland leapfrogged them in the league with a 2-0 win over Stoke.

Where is the defence?

Not even the best lawyers in the world would be able to defend Newcastle’s backline at the moment. They make the keystone cops look competent, that’s how bad they are.

Newcastle has never really had a cohesive defensive unit during their time in the Premier League. During those aforementioned Kevin Keegan years they had the philosophy of ‘we will score more goals than you’.

That philosophy led to entertaining and attacking football because they had the forward players to pull it off. At the moment they have promising young attackers in the likes of Ayoze Perez and Aleksandar Mitrovic, but they are not yet the finished article.

Now on to captain calamity himself Fabricio Coloccini, who quite frankly has been getting away with murder by claiming to be a Premier League defender for the last few seasons.

Sometimes players are unfairly used as a scapegoat for a team’s struggles, but in Coloccini the criticism is warranted. It is no coincidence that Newcastle concedes goals whoever partners him in the centre of defence.

A captain should lead, and a central defensive captain should be the one who gives the rest of the teams defence confidence and reassurance. Instead Coloccini’s presence in the backline seems to spread panic.

Bad choice of boss

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has come in for some heavy criticism for not spending big in the transfer market, but he has lived-up to his promise of spending money in the summer.

However the problem is the jury is still out on some of the players Steve McClaren has signed. In fact the jury is still very much out on McClaren himself. The former-Middlesbrough boss has had a career of hits and misses, mostly misses.

His slight success in Holland has been followed by mostly failure in the Championship. The appointment was always a gamble. The Newcastle hierarchy placed a lot of faith in McClaren in the summer, even handing him a position on the clubs board.

Any managerial appointment in the summer was a gamble, as the team needed major rebuilding. The club were always going to have a limited choice of bosses to choose from. That meant Newcastle had to choose from either a young up and coming boss or someone like McClaren with a patchy record.

Newcastle fans must have thought they could not get a worse boss than John Carver. They may be revising their opinions in the near future.

Nothing much has changed

Newcastle escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth last season on the last day of the season. Owner Mike Ashley may have let the club down in the past, but he gave McClaren substantial funds to spend in the summer.

Granted the team needed major improvements from last season and it seems the team was not improved enough to avoid the relegation battle this season.

Newcastle are not one of the three favourites to be relegated at odds of 10/11, but if things continue in the current vein then the bookies and the fans will lose faith in Steve McClaren and his team.

They say that the more things change, the more they stay the same and Newcastle United is made for that saying. A new manager and new players have not brought a change of fortunes. Newcastle fans will be wondering if the heady days of Kevin Keegan’s first spell will ever return.

Will Newcastle survive the drop to the Championship this season?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The 33-year-old has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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