2015 has been miserable for Newcastle United. John Carver failed miserably to put a run of positive results together and we only survived because West Ham’s players were already mentally on holiday knowing that their manager was a ‘dead man walking.’ There was no effort from our players and no sign of leadership on the pitch. After years of negligent transfer windows and mismanagement of the values and traditions of our once reputable football club, the fans voted with their feet and prompted Mike Ashley himself to address the world’s media and promise change. He would ‘bolt the horse to the cart’, listen to the fans and the club would change it’s ambitions in the Cups.
We began to dream of a top manager finally being appointed and got all giddy at the thought of the likes of the outdated Coloccini and Williamson finally being replaced. Various manager’s names were linked and we ran a pole on who we would prefer. Steve McClaren had just been sacked by Derby County in the Championship following a spectacular collapse from the automatic promotion places to falling outside of the playoff places. This was the 3rd job in a row he had failed at and indicated that when the pressure is turned up a notch, Schteve goes missing. In the end, McClaren was backed for the Toon job by only 4% of voters. The next thing we know Steve has been hired. So much for listening to the opinion of the fans then.
The Toon Army did not expect miracles, but after years of mismanagement we simply asked for the following;
1) A clear out of the dead wood that had sucked the life and drive out of the squad.
2) Real investment in the playing squad with experienced players, in the right positions.
3) Improvement in both performances and results in the League.
4) Real ambition to be shown in the Cup competitions.
Of course there was more the club could do, but the above would be a good start. McClaren knew he was not a popular choice and asked the fans to judge him after 10 games. The end of the summer came and to our amazement not only was Coloccini not shipped out, his contract was extended and his Captaincy assured. Schteve and Colo even started writing the fans occasional love letters in an effort to ‘improve’ communication. Unfortunately that was not the kind of communication we were asking for….
The only player that showed any effort towards the end of last season (Jonas Gutierrez) was unceremoniously dumped by phone. Class. Almost all of our perma-crocks, feckless and past it players were retained – ensuring the rot in the foundations of the playing squad remained. Then the club splashed the cash to the tune of £50m to bring in a carbon copy of the massive failure that was Remy Cabella, and a promising but inexperienced couple of young prospects in the shape of Mbemba and Mitrovic. Wijnaldum looked to be the only incoming player that would be capable of immediately improving the squad. It was nice to see some investment in the playing squad but many were left wondering why the squad still appeared to lack experience, leaders and depth in key areas. The defense still looked woeful. The summer transfer window, combined with the appointment of McClaren – was a little underwhelming. Points 1 and 2 failed then.
Schteve’s reign started off up and down as expected. Results were still as bad as last season but there were signs of life in the team. The draw against Manchester United highlighting a defensive solidarity and togetherness not witnessed by a Newcastle fan in a long time. Schteve reached 10 games in and fans were split. The club was still in or around the relegation zone but the occasional signs of fight in the side gave some reason to be hopeful that the recovery was under way. Our first opportunity to put a Cup run together was ended abruptly when our first team was dumped out the League Cup by Sheffield Wednesday’s second string. Point 4 failed.
Fast forward to December and any signs of togetherness and leadership within the playing squad has completely disappeared, whilst results and performances have been as woeful as they ever were under John Carver. We rolled over yet again against Sunderland, were hAmmered by Leicester and ex-manager Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace and to date McClaren has a worse record in terms of win percentages that even John Carver managed – despite having £50m of talent available to him. Point 3 failed. McClaren has looked uncomfortable in his technical area when we have gone behind and does not seem to have any aNswers. He looks like a fish out of water frankly. In recent games he has played our 2 most promising central midfielders on the wing, where they have been ineffectual and he has dropped our only player capable of holding the ball up in the forward area.
The board has a lot to answer for and needs to hand the next manager much more say in the playing squad. The board has definitely hamstrung Schteve to an extent, but HE is responsible for retaining Coloccini as Captain and HE is responsible for our results on the pitch. HE is responsible for the lack of fight and direction shown. McClaren is supposed to be a great coach, but whatever he has been doing on the training field has not been reflected in a good light on match days. Next up is two sides on form in Liverpool and Spurs who we do not have a prayer against, so why wait to review McClaren’s position? He has so far failed on every front conceivable and was never wanted by Toon fans in the first place.
Am I being a bit harsh? What are your thoughts?