Two weeks ago The Mag were kind enough to publish my (then) latest article, which was entitled ‘The words I dread hearing Steve McClaren say’.
(To feature like John, send in your articles for our website to [email protected] – all views those of the author etc etc)
On 28 June I wrote the following:
In three days time Steve McClaren will meet the Newcastle squad for the first time.
When he meets the players on Wednesday he will then have only a week and a half before the squad flies off to America, so you would imagine he’ll want to take stock as soon as possible and see which players are good, bad and indifferent.
We all know Newcastle are desperate for a number of first team ready new signings and hopefully Steve McClaren will see in days what the vast majority of us have learnt over the course of months and years.
I have this horrible feeling that by next Friday or possibly the start of the following week, we’ll hear the dreaded words…
“I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the depth and the quality in the squad of players I have inherited, I think I have plenty to work with here blah blah blah.”
I have to say that my heart sank when I read what Steve McClaren had had to say this weekend, two weeks after what I had written above.
“Most places you come in and you’ve got a lot of work to do and there’s a lot of work to do in terms of everything around the club. Internally this is better.
“We have got a good squad, good young players. Sometimes you come in and you have got four or five 30 year olds you have got to make decisions on and get out. Here they are young players and we want to buy young players and produce them.”
“From being inside the club, it is in better shape than I thought it was when I looked from the outside, if that makes any sense. It was a more pleasant surprise than you sometimes get.
“When you go into a club sometimes you have a perception but you go in and you think ‘Oh my word’. This is being dictated to you or that is. But here it is a good situation.”
Now it is not that I think it is all doom and gloom but I do really really hope that Steve McClaren was being economical with the truth when he said this above.
Wijnaldum looks a great signing but a few people appear to have found it all too easy to forget just how bad it was last season.
The general consensus before we signed anybody was that at least six players who could go straight into the first team were required, despite our PSV recruit is better than we anticipated, I still believe that we are desperate for those other five signings.
This morning the following players (Wijnaldum to follow later) flew out to America for pre season, imagine if it was Southampton instead we were preparing for and these were the players we had to rely on….
Goalkeepers: Karl Darlow, Freddie Woodman, Tim Krul,
Defenders: Fabricio Coloccini, Curtis Good, Jamaal Lascelles, Massadio Haidara, Daryl Janmaat, Steven Taylor, Mike Williamson
Midfielders: Rolando Aarons, Vurnon Anita, Gael Bigirimana, Gabriel Obertan, Jack Colback, Siem de Jong, Shane Ferguson, Yoan Gouffran, Moussa Sissoko, Georginio Wijnaldum (joining the squad later)
Strikers: Adam Armstrong, Papiss Cisse, Ayoze Perez, Emmanuel Riviere
Take away the three goalkeepers and you have 20 outfield players plus Wijnaldum, I can honestly say that at least half of them I would not want near the first team for Southampton.
Either because they have been shown to not be good enough (Williamson, Anita, Gouffran, Ferguson, Riviere, Bigirimana and so on) or are too young and/or played so few games you can’t know for sure what they can contribute at this time – Armstrong, Aarons, Good, Lascelles etc.
The very fact that a lot of these players are going for pre season to America has me worried, as in why have they bothered taking so many of them if there are indeed going to be major changes and players dispensed with?
Let’s hope that there is an awful lot of work going on behind the scenes because one or two marquee signings aren’t going to be able to do the job by themselves. If for no other reason than you can’t rely on a couple of new signings integrating immediately (especially from abroad) and staying fit all season.
Hopefully Steve McClaren’s words were some kind of positive thinking therapy for players, staff and fans alike.
Then he will get onto the more important positive action and ensure that Mike Ashley knows just how many players are needed to enable the club to bounce back.