So with four league games and one cup game down, how are we judging the start? Certainly it has been far from the fairytale start we all hoped might happen, but are we happy? And if so, why?
Let’s all be honest, the upturn in the club’s attitude to conducting its business seems a long way from what we endured last season, the mood has lightened, we’ve acquired some decent money signings and fans are daring to even look forward to match-day once more.
But is it really that we have improved, or is it just a case of anything was better than the depths we sunk to last season?
Four league games in and to be honest it hasn’t been great.
A total hammering away to Swansea, two red cards and only two points on the board to show, so why all the optimism?
I think because the attitude seems better. The players are grafting for the club, working for the shirt. Then the cup game, albeit against lower league opposition, it was a new horizon for the club – actually going into cup games looking to win.
The attitude of the players has been great this season, injected with a new love of football since McClaren’s arrival. The application on the field has been there for all to see – we haven’t had an easy start but other than the Swansea game, have looked a million miles away from the team of last season.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a long way to go, but I think most fans can see a tangible improvement and are willing to wait until some ‘should win’ games to judge the new set-up.
We aren’t expected to win against the likes of Man Utd or Arsenal, Southampton are a good team now and Swansea are showing everyone how to play football at the moment. So two points from those games probably isn’t a bad return for a team that was looking for all the world like going down at the end of last season.
With an in-form hammers side up next and a trip to the Etihad coming up, things aren’t likely to improve, so it will be interesting to see how the Watford, Norwich and Chelsea games go before we play the derby.
I can see trouble brewing if we lose another derby, but until then I think most fans are showing incredible patience and it’s nice to see.
The new players so far have been impressive, showing glimpses of potential while obviously a little bit of time is needed to let them bed in. Wijnaldum has looked impressive in midfield, Mbemba has slotted in very nicely and forming a great partnership with a rejuvenated Coloccini , whilst Thauvin looks to be finally a player who can take free kicks and cross a ball properly.
Mitrovic, well that’s a tricky one. For all the world should be a great player, physical presence and a good touch, capable of holding the ball up. He just needs to curb his over-enthusiasm a little and stop looking for a fight every time he steps on the pitch…doing without our new centre forward for three games because of a silly (if harsh) red card doesn’t do his cause any good and doesn’t help the side.
There is a hope once more in the stands and the pubs, despite not putting points on the board, the fans appreciate nothing more than seeing the effort.
That’s all we said last season, losing isn’t fine, but Newcastle fans will tolerate not being good enough, a lot more than not putting the effort in. McClaren wanted 12 games before we judged him and including cup games that makes it up to a dozen. Give me 11 points, a derby win and still in the cup come 3pm on the 25th of October, and I will actually be pretty happy with the progress.
Still plenty of speculation meaning things could still go pear-shaped, but for now I for one am enjoying the renewed joy and actually looking forward to watching the team again.
You can follow the author on Twitter @DownUnderMag
(To feature like Down Under Mag, send in your articles for our website to [email protected] – all views those of the author etc etc)