Is Steve McClaren who we expected? Is Steve McClaren who we wanted?
I have to say when he was first linked with us in 2004, when Sir Bobby was harshly shown the door by Freddy Shepherd, I wouldn’t have been enthralled at the news. The reaction probably would have been the same as if Steve Bruce had been appointed, or Sam Allardyce, or Graeme Souness.
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However, in 2015 I can’t help but think that he makes a good fit for the role of Newcastle Manager/Head Coach.
Mike Ashley stepping away from the board has to be seen as a good thing, a positive in that now we have someone in that position who is actually a football man, after all, Lee Charnley’s knowledge about football could be written on the back of a postage stamp.
If Graham Carr and Steve McClaren (friends apparently) can knock ideas and transfers about, then present them to Charnley to go and do the bidding, this can surely only be another positive, IF the player in question gets to speak to McClaren and NOT Charnley himself.
Talk of how much is available to spend is pretty pointless. It’s far more logical for McClaren and Carr to pinpoint the need for two centre backs and two strikers and make that a starting point for where funds need to be targeted most.
There are other areas that need attention of course, but these two positions (four signings) are paramount and if Charlie Austin has had a £15m tag slapped on his head, this is not the time for the club to play their previous hardball game.
Bid the £15m, get a top striker and that’s one position covered, simple as that. Move that mythical ‘line’ closer to the player, not the other way around.
Steve McClaren has impressed me straight away for two reasons.
Firstly, he did what I and many others knew was needed, but many of us didn’t expect to happen. John Carver and Steve Stone are no longer here, positions untenable.
Secondly, in keeping with Ashley’s final day statement that he wants to win something, the statements from McClaren and Newcastle are that we should be targeting the top 8 and winning a cup.
Ok, I’ll believe that one when I see it. I look forward to the teams selected in August and next January when the first League and FA Cup ties are played, but it’s a welcome policy shift, if genuine.
Other things that are afoot will be McClaren bringing in his own bodies on the coaching staff. I’ve been encouraged by the mention of Steve Black coming back to the club.
However, one thing that needs to be looked at is the physio and fitness departments at the club, they need to be put under harsher scrutiny over the coming months.
Aside from what’s going on behind closed doors, there’s another body of people that need to look at themselves and get behind the new manager. Us, the fans.
We can’t harbour dreams of getting a Jose Mourinho or a Rafa Benitez. Even a Patrick Vieira would’ve been a gamble. And that’s the point, every appointment is a gamble, every signing is a gamble. The problem in the recent past is that the club has been run down at an alarming rate, almost deliberately so. This must change.
We now have a Manager in place, unlike John Carver, who was a Head Coach at best. We had a Manager in place before him in Alan Pardew, who did a reasonable job under the circumstances, even though I disagreed with things he said (and did) and felt the time was right for club and manager to move on.
The new man needs to have substantial backing from the owner AND the fans.
No half-hearted stuff please.
If he gets neither, then we all suffer. If he gets one but not the other, then his job is made twice as difficult as it needs to be. However, if he gets both . .