Winter Trips Result In Poor Form!!

Fresh from a 5-1 drubbing at Chelsea and dropping back into the relegation zone, Newcastle head into an 18-day break before their next fixture. Having won only 6 games in 26 since he took over, the Grin Reaper Steve McClaren will shockingly be given even more time to turn the team’s form around – starting with a ‘training camp’ in Spain. But what can the fans expect from such a trip?

This will be the third season in a row that the Magpies have gone abroad for a ‘winter training camp’. Every time the club packs up for one of these warm weather camps, the media and fans alike voice their opinion that it looks like the club is off for a jolly when they should be rolling their sleeves up instead. I can’t help but notice these trips always seem to coincide with most other clubs around us playing in the next round of domestic cups, which we almost invariably get dumped out of in the earliest rounds. I don’t like to buy into or start conspiracy theories, but I have to ask if it is a club strategy to exit the Cups early in order to spend time abroad doing club and Sports Direct advertising? Are we sacrificing ambition for a quick buck again? It just seems odd to keep going away to places like Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the middle of our fixture list, which is primarily played in the rain, wind and cold. How does warm weather training prepare us for our forthcoming away fixture at Stoke for example?

Lets look at how the previous two warm weather camps have gone, beginning with Alan Pardew’s charges visiting Abu Dhabi. We had just gone out of the FA Cup in the 3rd Round and Pardew had this to say; “It was scheduled in to give us a lift for the fourth round of the FA Cup, we used to do something similar when I was at Crystal Palace. It was already booked before we lost to Cardiff. Fans need to know that. The players deserve a bit of sun, but they’re not getting a break because we’ve penciled in hard work.” We had started the season quite strong, but exited the Cups early and then went on a run of 4 defeats in 5 leading up to this trip. I’m not sure that form warrants the players deserving a trip. However if the club is going to sell these trips as an opportunity for team bonding, working on fitness & conditioning and getting injured players back, then I’d expect the team’s form to pick up on their return.

This is what Pardew said on the team’s return prior to facing Norwich;”We had planned it before our cup exit because we thought it would give us a nice boost for our fourth round tie but that unfortunately didn’t happen. What it has given us is a boost in terms of a bit of sun on our backs. It has boosted everybody’s character and personality and given us an appetite to try and chase a Europa League place, or even a Champions League place.” We did not challenge for the Champion’s League, or the Europa League. Instead – we finished 10th. The boost the trip gave us was nothing of the sort. We lost 3 of the next 5 games, picking up only 4 points out of 15. In total for the rest of the season, we picked up 14 points from 48. Well that did not work out did it?

The following season saw John Carver take the team to Dubai. Again we had no Cups to play for having been dumped out of the FA Cup by Leicester. The team had picked up 1 point from 9 and lost 3 out of 4 games in the run up to this trip. Again, not really a squad deserving a trip away. But did form pick up upon their return? Well the immediate reaction was winning 5 points out of 12. Not exactly a success. We would slide from relative safety to relegation fodder, narrowly avoiding the drop on the last day of the season. In fact we only won 2 fixtures out of 15 following that trip.

So here we are in 2016, this time going to Spain having been dumped unceremoniously out of the Cups at an early stage yet again, stuck in the relegation zone and with 5 of our next 7 fixtures away from home. Given that out away form has not been poor, but abysmal – with the wrong tactics, wrong line ups and wrong attitude employed on every occasion – what is Steve McClaren trying to achieve? What is the club trying to achieve? I repeat – we are travelling to Stoke City for our next game, in almost certain cold conditions. What is a warm weather camp going to do to help the players prepare for this fixture?

This is what the Grin Reaper has to say; ”It’s definitely not a jolly. We could have gone to warmer climates and more luxurious places. It is a training camp and we believe there is a lot of work and preparation to be done. There are players coming back, we need work and togetherness because after the Chelsea game from Stoke onwards it’s game after game. It’s the most critical part of the season when you are coming into the last 10. We are in a position where we are still in that battle to climb up the league and get away from the bottom three.”

Newcastle face Norwegian outfit Lillestrom in a game at the La Manga camp.

McClaren said: “We also needed a game. It’s difficult to find one here because everybody else is playing and if they aren’t they need a rest. So it’s an ideal opportunity to arrange a game behind closed doors.”

Do the Grin Reaper’s words sound familiar? If we need game time, then get a friendly arranged on our own patch, in the cold – where we will playing our next few competitive games? The club does not seem to appreciate the negative perception that these trips have with fans. Given our form following and leading up to these trips on other seasons, the fact we have been dumped out of the Cups yet again – it does look like a jolly and I’m not inclined to believe that the players deserve it or that it will do us any good. 5 games from 7 away from home coming up. Is there any hope for us? Nope. We have lost our last 5 away games on the bounce, conceding 13 and scoring only 2. This trip is a bad idea. So is allowing Steve McClaren to be on the plane.

About Shamrock

Like everyone here, support Newcastle United. Not the easiest side to feel good about at times, but it's our side!

191 thoughts on “Winter Trips Result In Poor Form!!

  1. Keys is based in Qatar now, maybe he heard some whispers that they might be looking for a PL club? I have no idea but his new show is a bit of a dud. He and Gray are nauseating the way they suck up to their guests, especially the c@cksucking print journalists. He refers to the Mirror scribbler as “the best print journalist in the world”. Maybe the producers told him to say that but it is still lame.

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  2. Little Sissoko fact. He has the most assists this season (5) and has made the most goal scoring opportunities for colleagues (40).

    He is a lazy sod at times and is frustrating because if he applied himself for every game he would be a top player – but he is still one of our best players and creators.

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  3. To be fair, I don’t think Colo’s ever had any pace to lose. He and Taylor have absolutely piss poor organisational skills though. I know some people think of Taylor as some sort of general at the back but he barely knows where he should be, let alone his colleagues.

    I’d actually have Williamson back and ahead of both of them right now. Shame we sold him eh 😆

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  4. Sham – thanks for that, i was about to go find the stats for Eric. He is frustrating as hell but he still creates a huge amount of chances for us. He’s integral to how we play, because we’re so poor as passing as a unit we need him as our outlet. Bringing in Shelvey gives us the ability to punt it long, but can McClaren devise a new game plan by dropping Sissoko at this stage of the season?

    He’s had over half the season and still doesn’t have a plan, so I have my doubts.

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  5. That said, I am certain Janmaat could do a better job than him on the wing and would give us more balance because he can tackle as well and gets 75% of his shots on target, meaning he would chip in with a few goals as well as assists. We need 2 signings down the right, because Sissoko will be gone this summer. I’d move Janmaat onto the wing, buy competition for him and get a RB to compete with Mbabu.

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  6. Newkie I agree. Sissoko is undroppable because we don’t have the squad depth, simple as that. Should have cleared out the dead wood over the 2 Windows. Can’t believe they are all still here.

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  7. Sham – but would whoever you play at right back make up for it? He provides threat from full back, we’d be losing that from whoever replaced him. Plus it puts more of our defenders at risk of injury if we play him on the wing..

    The wing isn’t even Sissoko’s position, so I can see the reasoning, but apart from the horrible miss I don’t think he had a bad game against west brom. He was hardly our worst player vs chelski either.

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  8. Not to fussed about the training camp, do they deserve it or should they go? hell no! Is it easier to set up a friendly in Spain, definitely, Spain is riddled with foreign teams training in the winter, would those teams rather go the the cold N.E to play in a friendly? hell no!
    The idea of the warm weather training originally(supposedly) is you pick up more injuries in the cold weather so sunnier climes are better, there is (was) a good chance of pitches being harder or snow covered. Does that apply so much now? probably not with some clubs having undersoil heating on training pitches now. Also during these long breaks clubs often relay part of their pitch making playing a friendly difficult.
    Is there any benefit going on them, who knows, probably not and not in my opinion yet many clubs do it so maybe there is. Our poor form after these trips is nowt to do with the trip itself but purely down to the fact that we are…well, basically ****. Have been for years.

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  9. Shamrock: thanks for the Sissoko stats. He is not as bad as I thought although he did used to get a few goals. Maybe I am judging him too harshly as he seems to have all the tools but rarely changes a game.

    I actually dont think we should make wholesale changes as we already have done that. The changes that should be made are to drop the players who have come in – Taylor, Tiote, Aarons (at left back) and bring back the ones who were injured. We still need a scorer so I think Mitrovic will be sacrificed for either Cisse or Doumbia, whoever is fit.

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  10. On something Stuart touched on in the last thread, it’s a bit of a farce of a fixture list when 7 out of 10 games are away from home! Effin disgrace imo.
    Why can’t it be 1 game at home and the next away? obviously some would need to be moved with clubs playing in Europe but it wouldn’t be many.

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  11. We also need to settle on who plays besides Shelvey as the defensive midfielder. Perhaps Steve can have a better look at Saivet on this holiday?

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  12. Newkie he provides threat from full back because he is always up the pitch, leaving a gaping hole behind him. It’s about time we had a defense that actually knew how to defend. I’m not sure how putting him in the wing exposes our defenseman to injury mind?

    Richie, good to see you. Good points about pitches and volume of team’s available to play in Spain.

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  13. I didn’t want to put you through it again, but as I’m being called out –

    https://youtu.be/DRm7xN43s9w

    Check out the link.

    Goal 1 – Aarons is positionally sound.
    Goal 2 – Aarons had all the time in the world – it was a poor pass.
    Goal 3 – Colo was done. Aarons was in an advanced position.
    Goal 4 – Saylor at fault IMO.
    Goal 5 – Aarons got done positionally.

    Of the goals scored I’d say only the 5th could be said it was coz we were playing a left winger at LB.

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  14. Cheers Shamrock and sterling job keeping the blog going.
    I’ve just recently started looking in again, Just found everything NUFC related too depressing the last few months 😥

    Besides this place is like Coronation Street, you can give it a miss for months then when the Rover returns (see what I did there?) it’s the same old faces churning out the same old lines so you miss nowt really 😉 😆

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  15. Maybe his lack of defensive ability would not look so striking if we actually had proper central defenders for a change…The thought of Colo still being around next season is horrible. What a massive mistake resigning him, especially for that long.

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  16. I am not that big on all this moneyball stuff for football but sometimes the stats do tell a story. I stand corrected on Sissoko, as without his creativity and chances created we would be a lot worse off. I think I must be overemphasising the times when he scuffs the last pass/shot.

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  17. True mate, most of the regulars here this season are the same regulars I saw some 6 or 7 years ago when I first started reading – which is a nice thing – albeit we could do with a few more old faces and new popping on 🙂

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  18. I suspect most Newcastle blogs/forums are having the same problem at the moment due to the problems of the last few years slowly killing fans’ enthusiasm.

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  19. Richie good to hear from you mate.

    Sharpy I bet young Arrons blamed himself for the mistake he made. I still believe that he should never have been put in that position against any prem team let alone the champions. So for me Schteve has a lot to learn .

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  20. Well, we didn’t need any defenders anyway. Harrumph. We’ve got loads of good ones. There’s errr Good, and ummmm Saylor, aaaaannd Colo, and also Mbemba….. That’s loads isn’t it? And they’re always fit…. That’s what I like about them…..

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  21. Even if Colback wasn’t fit enough to play the 90, He still played the 2nd half. Surely he could have got through an hour and been replaced by Lascelles with Taylor moving to LB.

    Aarons shouldn’t have been considered as an option at left back against that sort of opposition

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  22. Dave – as well he should. It was a **** pass, but my point is that it had nowt to do with him being at LB. looking back at that 5th goal as well and I would say that Colo is as much to blame – he should be in a position to cut that pass out IMO.
    I’m not arguing that playing Aarons there was a good decision mind, just that it wasn’t what lost us the game. The fact that he was selected there isn’t the worst thing either IMO – the fact we didn’t have a LB to play there in the first place is the worst thing!!!.

    I don’t see the point in buying Saivet this window when Tiote stayed. Should have got the defender first, then if/when Tiote moved moved they could have brought Saivet in.

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  23. Richie @ 91 yeah I am the same the club has been such a basket case, that the last thing I want to do is read about how bad it is , hence why sometimes I couldnt bring myself around to come on here.
    Ice will be on after his afternoon nap 😆

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  24. Steve’s latest team talk:
    “Now come on lads. Can you not win one for me? Can you not at least make an effort? Paul could you get me another of those lovely ****tail weenies please? And a gin and tonic? Yes, that would be lovely Paul. Are the lads ok for drinks? Now, where was I? Oh yes, soooooo I think we need another 5 wins to be on the safe side lads so please think of something clever to do on the pitch for a change……

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  25. More from Steve:
    Think light feet lads. Think clever little nice slow back passes. Think time to send a fifty yard job straight to Terry. Think about it before you do it though. Here’s me having to watch you lot make a hash of it! Can you not just make me proud for once? Oh what’s the use? You don’t care! Somebody wake up Mitrovich over there! What? Oh, ta Paul. I’ll just take a minute to finish these appies lads. Then it’s straight back to the important footy talk……

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  26. Dave… 😆 is it till an afternoon nap if he has to start at 10am?

    Sham…Even the time in my first marriage passed quicker than the Ashley years 😕

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  27. Our problems are over lads! Asaf Domb! Asaf Domb is available! We can get him for a nice little wage and some kosher deli meats! Beautiful!

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  28. Sharpy – That pass from Aarons was awful. That was pressure right there and then – clear as day. He wasn’t comfortable – we had already conceded one and he was in a unfamiliar position with unfamiliar players around him (Colo. Sorry but he wouldn’t be so tentative in the final third. He was scrambled brained!

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  29. Could be something in what Richard Keys says too. The squad has a much higher value now after the splurge. Could be a more attractive proposition providing it’s still in the PL. if we go down he could just say F**k it I’m out anyway.

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  30. Stu – I even posted the goals up to prove it. The lad was under no pressure at all when he played that pass – I can’t believe you maintain he was 😯

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  31. Stuart…Keys is a ****head but I hope he’s right. He does call it right mostly when something has anything to do with the middle east so maybe he’s heard something there?…or Keegan has been their studio guest all weekend so maybe he’s heard something. Probably all bull**** but I need to cling to something.

    Dave.. 😆 true

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  32. The pressure that will be on our home games is just going to be so huge I just don’t think we will be able to cope with it. The atmosphere will be edgy and personally don’t think it’s possibly (in reality) to stay up of we don’t win at least one away game.

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  33. So you don’t think he’s panicked when he was passing the ball because he’s noticed a player running right into the direction of the ball? Almost before he completes the pass he’s starting to run backwards!

    Personally and I know it’s a huge call (not) we would not have conceded that goal with Colback at left back.

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  34. Our problems just run too deep at the moment, from a weak and piss poor board, crap scouting system, sh!t coach and too many players who only play when they feel like it, no bottle no pride and the odd player who may have a bit of fight just ain’t good enough.

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  35. I would say Pedros inclusion for the first time in a month had a slight impact on the match, No doubt influenced by the likelihood of us putting a teenager in an unfamiliar position…

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  36. Stu – no mate, if you watch it back it’s clear to see that he panicked after making the pass and realising he ****ed up.

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  37. Stu – personally and I know it’s a huge call (not) but we would not have conceded that goal if Shelvey had taken a better freekick.

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  38. ‘re: Aarons. I’d say he was directly responsible for one goal (#2) and 50% to blame for goal 5.

    It’s was not just the goals though, it was his positioning throughout much of the game allowing Chelsea to play against us unopposed at times when if he had been marking tighter we may have had the ball more often. I don’t blame him at all. He’s just not a full back and should not have been there.

    End of the day though, he was only one if many tactical errors that day.

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  39. Poor Aarons. What did he do to deserve that? Was the plan to embarrass him because he’s asking for too big a wage? Any manager could see that Hiddink was drooling at the thought of getting at him..

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  40. To be fair, Aarons wasn’t to blame for any of the goals, the ******** who played him leftback is to blame!

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  41. Lee Charnley has only had to appoint two managers and the two he has appointed have been Carver and McClaren and both have resulted in relegation battles. Isn’t that a pretty dismal record? How doesn’t that tell Ashley he’s not up to it?

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  42. I also think it was a joke we only played one midfielder with a defensive mindset! He talks about going to attack in every game. I can’t remember the last time we went away from home and attacked. He picks stupid attacking players and then we don’t go forward. Staggering!

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  43. Stuart…I think Charnley had the chance to appoint a progressive manager or go for a bigger name and make a real statement of intent. Instead he went for (wrongly) what he thought was a safe but unspectacular appointment. It’s backfired spectacularly.

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  44. Here’s another one for you. Chelseas individual players ran on average around or about 1 mile more than newcastles.

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  45. Stuart: we did set about the Mackems, first half at Citeh (that ended well 🙂 ) and we gave it a bit of a go against Arsenal.

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  46. Only heard the very start of Total Sport and the Grim Reapers interview, where he says we have to blame ourselves (the players) and we are so inconsistent away from home. No, the only person to blame is him, he picked the team and tactics, everybody can see the big lad up front can’t play there on his own, needs somebody else beside him, so why not play that way. Ad of course an attacking winger kid at left back against top players rather than maybe another kid, but one who is a defender at least. And I think we are very consistent away from home, we hardly ever win.

    This time last year I wanted Ranieri or however you spell his name. Always knew he had something about him to motivate. He has taken a group of players who only just escaped relegation to the top of the league. Now I never would have thought that would happen but thought he could get players doing well together. What he could have done with ours. Now is the perfect time to change while we have a break and time to get them working on something new. Just hope Ashley continues seeing sense and worry about losing out on the big tv deal. He’s spent the cash this season, so get somebody in to make sure we dont go down before its too late

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  47. Well well well the toon heavyweight has shown his face at last,I was just saying a couple of days ago that all things toon were missing while RICHIETOON is not on,but don’t worry mate I kept your secret and didn’t tell anyone you were in the slammer,DAVE said he would keep you in touch I know he is knocking on a bit now and his memory has faded a lot but he’s learning his two times table sure he will crack it in a year or two.

    Great to see you back,get rid of your white mack and you will be fine

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  48. Chelsea won 67% of the aerial battles too. They just wanted it more than us. Our players need to start busting a gut and putting their bodies on the line.

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  49. Sham – Although we kept losing ariel battles it didn’t stop us contains to lump it up field to Mitro. You could see his frustration after 25 mins!

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  50. Quotes from Olivier Bernard:

    “It’s extremely disconcerting that, by the middle of February, McClaren still doesn’t know his best system or his best starting XI. In fact, it’s comical. I don’t think there’s any real coaching going on, that’s the most concerning thing really.Those players need to be coached.

    You look at the way Newcastle are getting turned and are conceding goals, it’s tactically all wrong right now. Players aren’t closing down well enough, and everybody seems to be just selfishly focusing on themselves and not looking at what is best for the team. That doesn’t work at this level; you need to complement each other, and it’s just not happening.

    The players don’t seem to have a clue what they’re doing.”

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  51. Sham – the points you are making are right though mate. If we aren’t working as hard or harder than our opponents in the position we are in, then tactics, formations and player selection become almost irrelevant.

    If we have a group of players that don’t want it, then we are ****ed.

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  52. Exactly Sharpy. Sunderland seem to want it. We are in deep trouble. Maybe the Pearson idea is not a bad one. He’d fire a massive rocket up some of the player’s backsides.

    By the way. Why the flying **** is Scteve still employed by our club?

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  53. ERIC@142 its funny that because players/managers/pundits all say what a great “coach he is his problem is he cannot manage which will always be his downfall,but leaves us in the mire

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  54. Bernard should get himself on this blog as he agrees with everything being said. He also said this:

    “As a starting XI the players need to take control, regardless of what the manager says.There are no leaders there, but these players need to make themselves more vocal.

    The head coach picks the team, but the players need to play in a way they understand and react to the situation that unfolds in front of them.
    Unless they starting doing that, Newcastle are in massive trouble.”

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  55. McC would make a good #2 because apparently he is a top coach ( can’t see it in our play but maybe it would be different if were not preoccupied being a manager), but also because he is always positive. He would probably be a good motivator if he did not have the stress of team selection, tactics and dressing downs to think about.

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  56. Ice: it seems McClaren falls down on tactics and man management. A good coach is probably easier to find than a good manager. It is the Manager who brings out the extra in players and makes them a team. He should have learnt that from his old boss.

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