Having witnessed first hand all but two of the Newcastle United games this season, I feel it is time to put into words where we are as a team, and evaluate how Steve McClaren has adapted to managing at a big club for the first time.
Starting at the back, and I don’t believe Rob Elliot could have done any better since replacing the injured Tim Krul, and with Karl Darlow as third keeper, we are in a decent place between the sticks. I would rather have Fraser Forster than Krul, but that ship has sailed.
Our real problems lie at the back. As soon as McClaren gave Colo another deal and kept him as captain, I knew we were going to be in for a tough season. Colo is past it, he has one good game in ten, and is simply not a strong enough character to lead a Premier League team.
Reality is that we have one good defender in Mbemba, and oh how we have missed him over the last 3 games. Put Chancel with a good strong CH like Huth at Leicester and we would be a far far better defensive unit. Maybe even give Lascelles and Mbemba a run out. It can’t be any worse than Colo and Taylor.
Janmaat is great going forward, but because of the general weakness in defence he gets exposed too often for me. Dummett, well the jury is still out, and he has too many injuries. I would like to see Colback at left back, a position he excelled in at Sunderland. Steve still hasn’t tried this out though, despite plenty of cover in midfield.
Now to the midfield and this is where McClaren has constantly got it wrong for me. There is absolutely no shape in midfield. Sissoko has been an absolute disgrace this season but still has played when available. There has to be something going on behind the scenes there, because a constant underperformer who doesn’t get dropped is a rare bird indeed.
The main problem is that Steve has failed to find a midfield formation that works consistently. Shelvey looks a great buy, but he can’t do it from 20 yards inside his own half. Townsend hasn’t had a chance to shine as yet and the purchase of Saivet seems weirder by the week.
I think the main problem is a lack of pace. We don’t have any real pace in there and when we are playing so deep that becomes even more apparent, because the other team has plenty of time to regroup when losing possession. That is a huge part of why we are creating so few chances this season.
Let’s face it, a midfield of Shelvey, Colback, Wijnaldum, Anita, de Jong, Saivet, Sissoko, Tiote doesn’t have a lot of width about it and that is something that makes it easy for opposition to defend against. The only width we have naturally comes from Townsend and Obertan and they have only played 3 games this season between them. Aarons has contributed one or two more.
How do we evaluate a forward line that doesn’t get many chances? Difficult. I like Mitrovic, but at 21 it is a big ask to be the main striker in a team that doesn’t create anything for you. He holds the ball up well but that brings him too deep and then his lack of real pace becomes an issue as he is slow to get into the box. How many times have we seen him a yard behind the pace this season?
Perez is a one for the future. Probably not our future if we go down though. He looks a quality player, but he needs guidance and I feel that is lacking from the management team. The rest of the forwards are useless in my opinion and the sooner we get rid the better.
– Bad team selection
– Lack of width and pace
– Only one good defensive defender
– Too many central midfielders without vision
– Bad management, resulting in bad performances.
I like to see managers given time, but for me Steve has had that time. I don’t mind him as a bloke, he seems honest and hard working but there comes a time when that just isn’t enough.
I hope to see Moyes come in and keeps Cathro as coach, as I feel they will work well together.
It has to be done now though, or this great club of ours will be going down and I don’t think we will have it so easy in the Championship this time around with the current environment and lack of passion.
(To feature like Kris, send in your articles for our website to [email protected] – all views those of the author etc etc)