Steve McClaren has said that even against Aston Villa he was happy to try and hit the opposition on the break.

The Newcastle boss says that he has a ‘certain strategy’ for each game and that doesn’t necessarily mean trying to control the match via possession.

Whilst you can understand this against say Spurs away or even the better teams at home, you would think that if ever there was a game when you wanted to strangle the life out of the opposition it would be a really really poor Aston Villa.

Villa ended the match with (see below) more possession, more shots in total and on target, as well as more than twice as many corners.

Relying on hitting the bottom team on the break…surely Newcastle should be much better than that.

No wonder that Villa massively dictated play in the second half, equalised and could have ended up winning the game. When the teams emerged for the second half, the visitors instantly took control of the flow of the game and Steve McClaren appears to be admitting that this was something he was happy to see as part of his ‘game plan’.

It simply reinforces my belief that Newcastle’s biggest problems are in the centre of midfield, especially when even the Head Coach doesn’t appear to have the belief in Vurnon Anita and Jack Colback that they are good enough to run the game.

Steve McClaren:

“We have a certain strategy and game plan in each game and that does not necessarily mean controlling a game through possession.

“Sometimes we are a better team when we are breaking, as we saw again on Saturday.

“We are trying to get that balance between the two so we are growing, developing, we are not there yet but as long as we keep battling and picking up the points and always being competitive.

“Of course it is going to be nervy and that ebbs through from the whole stadium. You can feel the tension in certain spells of the game but the one thing I did like was the way they (Newcastle players) did overcome that.”

Here are the stats from BBC Sport:

Possession was 47% Newcastle and 53% Villa

Total shots was 8 for Newcastle and Villa 10

Shots on target was Newcastle 4 and Villa 7

While corners was Newcastle 3 and Villa 7

Team: Elliot, Janmaat, Coloccini, Mbemba, Dummett, Colback, Anita (Thauvin 71),  Sissoko, Wijnaldum, de Jong (Perez 59), Cisse (Mitrovic 33)

Unused Subs: Darlow, Mbabu, Gouffran, Tiote

Ref: Martin Atkinson

Crowd: 48,234