Steve McClaren has been appointed Newcastle manager with a bit of a mixed reaction within the world of football and, in particular, Newcastle United fans.
I am not going to list his achievements or his failures here as this has been extensively covered on The Mag before and elsewhere. However, like him or not he has at least won trophies both in England and abroad, which is something other British managers (Pulis, Allardyce, Moyes, Monk, Hughes, Pardew etc) haven’t done. Despite this fact, many people in the media continue to make out that these managers are indeed managerial master class.
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Looking back to when Pardew left, there were a number of opinions in the media asking which respectable manager would ever want the Newcastle job under the circumstances?
It was reported that the new man would have no say in transfers, would have his best players sold as soon as somebody makes a bid for them and then when he loses a few games on the bounce, he would have the Newcastle fans setting up websites to get rid of him. Therefore none of the “proper managers” mentioned above would go anywhere near the job.
So is this still the situation at the club, or after Mike Ashley’s interview at the end of the season have things actually changed, or are we again all looking at a summer of false promises, constant paper speculation with no result and ultimately huge disappointment?
Looking at the appointment and Steve McClaren’s position, it looks fairly promising in the fact that not only has he been appointed as head coach but he is also now a member of the board, this should give him a big say in what players are brought into the club and which are shipped out.
Rather than having no say on transfers which was reported previously, he will have a major say along with Graham Carr and then I presume it will be over to Lee Charnley to get them ‘over the line’ as Pardew was so fond of saying.
As for player outgoings, as a board member you would expect players that he was desperate to keep hold of, will stay unless the transfer fits a certain criteria. This could be ridiculous money being offered, like the case with Andy Carroll, or somebody offering £10m plus for a 30 year old Papiss Cisse.
The board will therefore rightly make a decision that this deal is too good to turn down. Another reason for the sale of a required player would be if they go on strike or publicly announce a desire to move to another club like Cabaye did and which it is not inconceivable that Sissoko will do. There is also a chance a player has a clause in their contract like Demba Ba had and there isn’t much the club can do about it.
So if there are outgoings this summer then we do need to look at the whole situation, rather than just going down the tired media route of saying same old Newcastle selling their best players.
He has also been allowed to get rid of current members of staff that he didn’t want and as we speak he is attempting to bring his own men in, again it was reported in the media that the new man will have to work with Carver and others as his backroom staff as the club would be unwilling to terminate their lengthy contracts, this has again been proved wrong and McClaren can now choose his own backroom staff with a fairly clean slate.
It seems the appointment of Ian Cathro as assistant manager is imminent and looking at his CV it sounds like exactly the forward thinking young British coach that we need at the club.
If rumours are to be believed, then it seems Steve Black will also have a role at the club which would be received well by the majority of fans due to his time at the club during the Keegan years and the positive things spoken about him by many ex players and in particular Johnny Wilkinson.
There has been criticism regarding knock backs by Phil Neville, Bolo Zenden and Steve Round but as long as the new management team is set up with top quality coaches before ASAP I don’t see a problem.
One other area that would appeal to a new head coach is that Mike Ashley doesn’t seem the type to get rid of somebody after a few bad results and discontent from the fans, if this was the case Pardew would have been sacked several times! This therefore provides McClaren with some job security and he is able to take a longer term view to managing the club and player recruitment which can only be a positive thing for any manager.
So far so good right? Surely there must have been managers and coaches queuing up to take the job…
Well the most important part of the summer and the big question that every Newcastle fan is waiting to be answered is, will money be spent in this transfer window and if so, how much. This can’t be guaranteed and it wouldn’t be the first time the club have been let down badly by dealings within the boardroom.
All of the above will mean absolutely nothing if Mike Ashley doesn’t put his hand in his pocket and provide some serious funds to improve a struggling team.
After Liverpool’s lightning start to transfer dealings, many people are starting to doubt that major finances will be provided and are yet to be convinced that anything has changed.
It is also worth remembering that many fans were happy with the progress made by Newcastle last summer in the transfer window when they brought in Colback and Perez early, which was followed by two Dutch internationals in Janmaat and De Jong and the marquee signing of Cabella for £12m.
Two promising British youngsters in Lascelles and Darlow were also bought and sent back to their clubs to gain further experience.
Some people were even praising Charnley for his transfer dealings. It was the January window and the sale of two defenders and no replacements brought in that upset most and left a shallow squad heading into freefall with a head coach who couldn’t address the slide.
All fans are waiting anxiously to see who the first new arrivals are through the door.
Talk of transfer war chests and the need for anything between 6 and 12 new players.
This is just my opinion but I don’t believe a complete clear out of playing staff is required, a complete overhaul can be a dangerous thing at a football club as players take time to get to know each other and foreign players in particular can take time to acclimatise to a new league, in particular the premier league.
I feel that a lot of the problems from last season were down to the ineptitude of the management and coaches at the club who have now thankfully gone.
Most people feel that Steve McClaren is an excellent coach and this has been stated many times by players and coaches he has worked with in the past, so part of the club’s thinking in appointing him must surely be focused towards him getting the best out of, or improving, players we currently have.
A core group of Krul, Janmaat, Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Tiote, Sissoko, De Jong, Anita, Cabella and Cisse all underperformed under the previous management.
Add to that group some youth in the way of Colback, Dummett, Perez, Lascelles, Woodman, Darlow, Aarons and Armstrong and the squad isn’t in my opinion in need of major surgery.
What I do think the squad needs, is major investment in key areas. The club needs to go out and spend big on top players with big personalities who can walk into the dressing room and command respect.
I am not so worried about the lack of movement in the transfer market so far, as we don’t need players being brought in just for the sake of it, or to put a stop to people complaining about the lack of signings.
When we do eventually bring some players in I hope it is a clear sign of intent and the arrival of some much needed quality and leadership.
If that doesn’t happen then I agree with many and feel that we could again be in for a long hard season of struggle but we have only just seen the back of June and I am prepared to see what happens over the next month.
As ever though with Newcastle United it is only one person who can decide on the direction the club will take and in a month from now we will probably have a clearer idea of which direction that will be.