The arrival of Steve McClaren as Newcastle United Head Coach, and his addition to the new look club board, has created a large sense of optimism on Tyneside.
McClaren’s high standing within the game, passion for the region, and the club’s willingness to increase the Head Coach’s influence, are positive steps on the walk away from the misery of recent years.
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However, perhaps a more poignant step was the dismissal of beleaguered coaches John Carver and Steve Stone.
A few months ago it would have been unthinkable for Mike Ashley to pay out 10 years worth of contract to remove members of staff and it was widely thought, that unlike Patrick Vieira or Michael Laudrup, Steve McClaren would be more than willing to work alongside the current backroom staff – thus saving the owner some more pennies.
Yet the former Middlesbrough Manager outlined his demands and prior to his appointment, came the surprising yet welcome news of the coaching reshuffle. Ashley’s Carver gamble had failed to pay off, and for Newcastle to truly move forward on the pitch, anyone with a brain could see that the interim had to be out.
However, merely having a brain hasn’t served Newcastle United well in recent times and it was expected that Ashley would continue his low cost empire, with Carver stepping back into his assistant manager post and Steve Stone continuing to put the cones out.
Newcastle’s inadequacies on the field of play have largely been down to poor tactics, selection, and training ground preparations. The players had long stopped responding to Carver and Stone, almost as soon as Alan Pardew departed the club.
Negativity seared through the club like a disease, with the players carrying the ailment each and every week.
Of course, as Carver stated numerous times, you can only work with what you are given, but he was given a half decent squad of players who had beaten Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City under his predecessor and were looking up rather than down at the turn of the year.
The be all and end all is that John Carver was simply not good enough; he was found wanting big time and Newcastle United almost paid the ultimate price. Sympathy for the Geordie who loved the club soon went out the window, with the whimpering in the derby and clueless displays at Everton, Leicester, QPR, and at St James’ Park.
Ridiculous interviews and statements, turning on the players and playing the weekly Sir Bobby Robson card, was bringing more shame on Toon fans already embarrassed enough. It was a case of ‘careful what you wish for’ for those Newcastle fans delighted with Pardew’s exit.
The demise was spectacular but Newcastle survived and the club got their man at last in McClaren. Carver staying on would have kept that lingering failing around the players; who can now move out of the dark shadows under the new regime.
Steve McClaren can now fully put his own stamp on the place, and quickly stated his intent to investigate the horrendous injury situation.
The new Head Coach knows the area, knows what the fans want and expect, and hopes to bring some good times back to St James’ Park.
It was positive to see him added to the board of directors and hopefully he can work with Graham Carr to recruit some quality for the first team. Lee Charnley’s cringeworthy declaration that Newcastle United would now essentially ‘try’ to win at football, was another positive notion on the back of Mike Ashley’s pre-West Ham statement of intent.
All we want is a club that tries, that replicates the passion of those that arrive in droves at the 52,000 seater stadium every other week. The hierarchy are certainly now making the right noises but as ever, we will believe it when we see it.
One thing for certain is that Steve McClaren is determined to deliver on his part in a job he has coveted since Steve Gibson pulled the plug on it in 2004.
With John Carver and Steve Stone now out of the picture, Newcastle can shake off the last of the Alan Pardew era and start the long road to recovery.