So, Steve McClaren asked us to judge him after ten games and, with us rooted at the bottom of the league and another derby day defeat, it doesn’t look great on paper.
Some will argue that results don’t lie but I really don’t think that this is the time to panic.
Adam Johnson’s smug little face wheeling around the pitch on Sunday condemned us to the ignominy of a sixth defeat in a row at the hands of the mackems.
Yet nobody watching the match could argue that Sunday wasn’t our best performance in this fixture compared to the previous five.
It was certainly a far cry from the dark afternoons of those 0-3 no-shows at St James Park. Indeed, we dominated the game so much, I thought it had 1-0 Sunderland written all over it.
Oh well. Without going into it too much – the gods saw it in their wisdom to conspire against us and we were robbed. That is just football sometimes I suppose.
Consequently, despite feeling deeply gutted after being so hopeful beforehand, I still can’t help feeling relatively upbeat.
The only thing I demand from NUFC is a team that cares as much about winning and losing as those in the stands, and I hope the players are hurting and feeling as hard done to as we are.
Effort and commitment aren’t a lot to ask for (those qualities should be a pre-requisite of anyone getting paid as much as they do) but as we’ve seen in recent seasons, the fact that we played quite well against Sunderland for once shouldn’t be taken for granted.
As Newcastle fans, we are constantly battered with this myth of ‘delusional expectations’. That somehow we plough through managers and spit venom towards those who hold the pursestrings because we expect to win the league every year. Wrong.
Your chosen team is a life sentence – through thick and thin and all that – and what the media fails to acknowledge is that for years, we have had to endure bad managers, worse players, and an owner that seemed hellbent on humiliating the club, and the fans, at every given opportunity out of pure spite. Why would we have been anything other than unhappy?
I imagine McClaren has been kicking himself since the weekend for using 10 games as a milestone for which to judge his success on Tyneside.
Not because of our current position in the league, but because ten games is nowhere near long enough to fix a team so deeply set in the funk as we were at the end of last season.
The trend in modern football has become to expect immediacy, quick fixes to shortsighted problems, but rebuilding NUFC will take time and consistency.
All the old cliches apply here – ‘things won’t happen overnight’, ‘success needs stability’ etc.
McClaren’s old boss, Alex Ferguson himself, was under pressure and close to the sack at Man U before his fortunes began to turn; how different would the landscape of football have been over the last 20 odd years if Ferguson had been given the boot too early?
Ten games is a drop in the ocean, barely even a single baby step.
For obvious reasons, I’ve never been a McClaren fan, and I admit that when it became common knowledge he was going to be ‘the one’, I was underwhelmed to say the least.
The only real positive I could cling to was my fear that JFK would be brought back out of retirement as chief clown to our seemingly endless circus hadn’t materialised. I’ve seen enough though from these ten games, regardless of league position, to put all my faith in him. What more can we do?
Results haven’t gone the way we’d all hope, and there are no doubt plenty more bad ones to come. There have been no immediate band aids for the cracks we all know are there, but I do think we should give this one a shot.
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