In explaining what went on behind closed doors after the Leicester defeat, Gini Wijnaldum revealed that Steve McClaren ‘explained he was not mad’.
Which is at least some relief after experiencing Joe Kinnear as both manager and Director of Madness….sorry, football.
Actually some people would think it was an essential qualification to take on the Newcastle job under Mike Ashley…well, either that or desperation.
As it turns out, Steve McClaren was apparently not ‘mad’ in the context of being angry, rather he just wanted to make clear to the players that they don’t play with any spirit or fight to win the matches.
You can imagine the shortcomings of his team driving the Head Coach mad in both meanings of the word.
Wijnaldum even accepts that all the stats, including running, showed the drop in effort for the Leicester game in particular. When it is in front of your home crowd as well, it must be especially worrying when the players can’t react to fifty thousand of their own supporters.
The former PSV midfielder says that he has spoken to all the players and they have all said that they do care and want to do well.
Which is all well and good but it is meaningless unless they show it on the pitch.
Wijnaldum is obviously well meaning but it does remind you of John Carver and the episode where he got Steve Stone to open the dressing room door, before inviting anybody not up for the fight to walk out the door.
It isn’t like any player was going to do that, just as no player is going to turn around to Wijnaldum or any other player and say he couldn’t care a less.
Gini Wijnaldum talking to The Mirror:
“The manager explained he was not mad, just disappointed that we don’t play with spirit, that we don’t fight to win the game and we don’t do it as a team.
“Sometimes the body language looks like they (the players) don’t care…but of course they care. I have spoken with every player and they do care, we all want it going well with the club.
“The players have spoken with each other. Everyone said their thing, had their say, it was a good thing.
“We listened to each other and we understand what each other is thinking, you need to do it, or it reaches a point when you don’t get changed any more. It is better to do it, to let it go.”
“What’s the mood? Angry? Of course. We are disappointed in ourselves and we want to react.
“The manager said that our game level dropped so much, we compared how Leicester was against the Chelsea game and others.
“We were way below the averages in terms of the running and the stats.”