Steve McClaren has said that everything is focused on his Newcastle team to face Southampton in nine days time.
I think certainly he will be thinking about what to do when the Saints come to town but I have a feeling he will have his sights set more on September for when he will be putting HIS Newcastle team out.
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Events have conspired against the new Newcastle Head Coach.
His own appointent dragged on, as did those of his coaching team, then signings have dragged on for what at times has seemed forever – what with the 24/7 force feeding from online news and social media.
Wijnaldum joined the pre season schedule part way through, whilst Mitrovic has at last joined the tail end and Mbemba will miss out the seven pre season friendlies altogether.
When you add injuries to first team players such as Coloccini, Tiote, Cabella and Dummett, as well as a shorter summer break than normal due to a late season finish and an early start due to next summer’s Euros, it would have taken a miracle for Steve McClaren to be 100% ready for August 9.
On top of all that, the new Head Coach has made clear how poorly planned the pre season schedule has been, both in terms of the timing and number of games, as well as what he sees as a trop too far to America – McClaren believing staying in Europe gives much better preparation.
Where we are though, is where we are, and we all (including Steve McClaren) have to make the best of it.
When Newcastle line up against Southampton, I can’t see the starting eleven deviating very much from:
Krul, Janmaat, Williamson, Taylor, Haïdara, Anita, Colback, Sissoko, Wijnaldum, Perez, Cissé
It may not be the major transformation most of us were looking for from last season’s near disaster, but in the short-term I think this is what is realistic.
This team above were the eleven who started against Sheffield United, with it looking clear that it was Steve McClaren’s first eleven from those available, something all but confirmed when he then started an all but completely different (second?) team against York, Ayoze Perez the only one to start both.
On the bench against Sheffield United had been: Darlow, Lascelles, Satka, Abeid, Gouffran, Aarons, Armstrong, Obertan and de Jong.
Whilst I have no doubt that Alan Pardew may have taken major gambles with players for short-term hoped for gains, as he did with the likes of Aarons and Cisse who were brought back too early after injury and ended up crocked long-term, I don’t think Steve McClaren will go down that route.
Even if they feature on Saturday against Borussia Monchengladbach, I can’t see any way Coloccini or Mitrovic will start against Southampton, considering how little pre season they have had. Whilst Chancel Mbemba hasn’t even got his visa as yet and can’t be just thrown into our mess of a defence.
Obviously we hope for the best but within a 20 day period surely damage limitation is the best we can hope for as United face Southampton, Swansea, Man Utd and Arsenal, all of who finished in the top eight last season. Throw into the mix a League Cup game in that period and you have a big challenge for McClaren.
Obviously the fans need to stay calm and give the Head Coach a chance to get his team on the pitch and the fact that there is a 16 day gap (internationals) between the Arsenal home game and West Ham away on Monday 14 September, will see a chance for major changes, especially with McClaren having seen the players in a competitive situation.
Looking into my black and white crystal ball, I can envisage Newcastle lining up with the following against West Ham, injuries/player sales (and buys) permitting:
Krul, Janmaat, Mbemba, Coloccini, Dummett, Colback, Sissoko, Aarons, Wijnaldum, Cisse, Mitrovic
Five changes from the team I envisage facing Southampton, though I would love to think more signings will still happen, with a left-back, centre-half and striker on my shopping list.
Patience is the word and I have a feeling we may need plenty of it in the coming weeks.