Steve McClaren’s unveiling as Newcastle Head Coach now seems an awful long time ago.
In front of a packed audience of one preferred media partner journalist, a new era was heralded in at St James Park.
Targeting the top eight and full steam ahead on the cups, what could possibly go wrong…
Winless in the Premier League after 10 weeks and a feeble home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday reserves in the League Cup, no wonder Steve McClaren wants to redefine what success is.
Ahead of the Norwich match, the United boss has been regaling us with stories of his glory days at Middlesbrough, when they would have a party on reaching 40 points.
Applying that to now, Steve McClaren says that people would think him daft and crazy….if he was saying now he would turn down 40 points by the middle of April.
Well it would be a miracle in many people’s eyes if they believed McClaren’s earlier claim this week that losing Tim Krul to injury was already costing us 20 points.
We appear to be slipping dangerously into Pardew/Carver company of moving the goalposts.
Steve McClaren is now apparently trying to move us into the group of clubs who are simply happy to survive in the Premier League.
It is not that we are arrogant enough to think we have a divine right to be in the Premier League (why would we when Mike Ashley relegated us only six years ago?), it is that staying in the PL should merely be a by-product of a normal season’s business for a club like Newcastle, a bit like finishing above Sunderland.
Why would you start off saying your aim is to finish above the mackems, apart from when Newcastle have imploded then being above our local rivals is something that happens matter of factly. Finish in the top half of the table and you don’t need to worry about Sunderland or relegation.
Steve McClaren has been keen to say that the results of the first eight matches aren’t a surprise etc etc, so if that is the case then why should there be worries about relegation and safety seen as some great success?
The truth is of course that this opening set of matches has been a complete disaster but McClaren on behlaf of Ashley has to try and paint some daft explanation that tries to tell us something different.
No Newcastle fans are expecting top eight now, they just want to see the team start winning matches and play better football, plus trying just as hard in the second half of games as the first.
Having the manager/head coach trying to move the goalposts and divert attention from the total mess and chaos at the club doesn’t fool anybody.
The only parties he needs to be thinking about at the moment are after getting the first win of the season on Sunday and then beating Sunderland, anything less and there is more chance of a wake than any party.
“The most important thing at the present moment…and this is probably true for 10 or 11 of the clubs in the league, is to get to 40 points. Most of the clubs in the Premier League will be thinking the same, they all want to get there as quickly as they can.
“All this talk about tables and what other clubs are doing, it doesn’t matter. You have got to get those points and then everything else is irrelevant. At the present moment, being in the top eight is miles away.
“I remember having conversations with Harry (Middlesbrough coach Steve Harrison), he used to have a massive party whenever we got to 40 points. Whether that was in November, March, April, whenever, he’d say, ‘Right, we are having a party now’.
“It is all about getting to that 40 point mark, then you can think about other things. Especially this year (with the extra TV riches from next season), that has to be the absolute priority. That is the focus.
“If someone said to me now, ‘You’ll have 40 points by mid-April’, I would take it. That is just the perspective of where we are. I think people would think I had gone absolutely daft and crazy if I was sitting here now saying we would turn that down.”