After 90 minutes of competitive football, it was clear how Newcastle are going to be playing under Steve McClaren.
Despite spending 5 years as Newcastle manager, I still can’t work out what Alan Pardew’s ‘style’ was.
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Pass, pass, pass. Straight from the off, Newcastle showed a willingness to retain possession and play neat, tidy football.
Every goal kick that Tim Krul took, he was given wide options from Captain Coloccini and new boy Mbemba, with the two full backs pushed on, creating space for either Colback or a revitalised Vurnon Anita to pick up the ball in the middle.
Vurnon Anita has often been criticised during his Newcastle career due to his lack of physical presence in the centre of the park, but he appears to have a big role to play under Steve McClaren, with the Ajax graduate’s short passing game making him a potential key asset for Newcastle.
Alan Pardew often preached about his desire to play attacking and passing football at Newcastle but McClaren actually put it into practice. In fact, Pardew’s football often turned into a long ball game, which was a rarity against Ronald Koeman’s side on Sunday.
Steve McClaren appears to have given Newcastle a style and brought back some professionalism to the side.
There was a game plan, a strong work ethic and desire from the players, which has been missing from an often spineless Newcastle over recent years. I particularly liked the touch of having all the players arrive in suits (or tuxedo if you’re Chancel Mbemba).
It was far from a perfect performance but the 2-2 draw with Southampton was full of promise.
The defence is still suspect, with Haidara looking to be the weak link at left back.
Considering it was the first time they had played together, Coloccini and Mbemba looked moderately steady and are only going to get better as a duo.
One criticism of Newcastle’s passing game was the speed it was played it. At times it was slow and easy for Southampton to defend against, but that will only improve over time, as Wijnaldum begins to settle into the Premier League following an impressive debut.
I consider myself to be optimistic as a Newcastle fan, for reasons I do not know, but surely many fans are a lot more confident now, having witnessed the first game of the McClaren regime.
Then again, I was optimistic after the opening weekend last season…
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