“The work starts now”, said Steve McClaren to the assembled masses…..I mean four blokes….from the media upon arrival, and I find myself wondering if Steve knows just how much work is required if his actions are to match his words during the next 3 to 8 years (?!?!).
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For Newcastle United’s latest manager/ head coach/ director of football/ board member/ kit man, there can be no doubt that the first few weeks of his reign will go a long way to defining how he is perceived by the ever restless and distrusting fan base, cynical from 8 years of Mike Ashley misdirection and outright lies.
For Schteve, there will be a right way and a wrong way to this job. Admittedly much of what will make it right is probably out of his power, but how he responds to obstacles which will invariably come his way from above, will tell us as much about the man as any backroom appointment or promise of finally competing in the cups. To do it right there are several things that I want to see happen this summer…
Stand Your Ground
There will be a time this summer when McClaren wants a player and Carr or Charnley don’t, whether that is for financial reasons or whatever. Steve needs to stand his ground on this, he is responsible for how the team plays and it will be his plan to execute it on the pitch, so he needs to ensure that he is given the best possible chance of doing this by getting the personnel he wants. It will be very interesting to see how this one plays out.
Charlie Austin Is Not The Answer
Well not on his own at least. A big part of me thinks that Austin is this season’s Lacazette, who was last season’s Aubameyang, who was the season before’s Bony/ Gomis/ Remy. There always appears to be a player who is publicly declared as the number one target, they seem to be relentlessly pursued for weeks on end, we are virtually assured of their signing and when when suddenly it doesn’t happen, we discover that there is no plan B. This cannot happen again. Either get the lad signed or move on to plan B, Bas Dost anyone?
It Takes More Than Just a Striker
So let’s say that we actually get a reputable striker and pay a fairly large amount of money for him, that cannot be the end of bringing in decent footballers.
Whilst I am well aware that cost is not always directly an indication of value in football, there is a law of averages that shows more often than not that you do get what you pay for. Sure we can all list examples that go against that, but they are definitely the minority.
The first team needs more creative flair who are capable of playing in the Premier League (not Cabella), the defence requires tearing down and rebuilding from scratch (possible exception for Janmaat), and just one striker is probably not enough.
Of all these areas they desperately need to address the centre of defence above all others, and to be fair to McClaren he has had some decent defenders play under him in his time. He gave the England Captaincy to Terry and also spent a fair amount of time working with Woodgate and Southgate, who was a far better defender than many gave him credit for.
Hopefully he can develop Lascelles, rinse one last good season out of Colo, give Taylor some brains and help Willo pack his case, before bringing in a new pair of centre-halves to actually play.
Perhaps a surprising one from me, but if the season starts well, the team plays good football and the players bought in live up to expectation, then much of the dismal feeling around the club will evaporate, and that can only be a good thing.
Don’t get me wrong, I would still want Mike Ashley out and campaign for that with every fibre of my being, he has simply gone too far too often to be redeemed, but that doesn’t mean that I want to live my football life in abject misery. Not to mention, it would be completely unrealistic to suggest that winning football matches does not change the mood of the majority of the support, because it clearly does.
Like always, much of the above depends on the support and actions of the owner, which is where faith and expectation takes a nosedive. The one thing above all that needs to happen before anything else, is for Mike Ashley to deliver a truck load of money, then sod off until it has either all been spent, or more is required. If he doesn’t, then we can expect a fast repeat of the latter half of last season with widespread unrest, protest, boycott and misery over the club.
Not for the first time in Newcastle United history, we find ourselves at a point where a hopeless situation could still potentially be pulled back from the brink .
The only doubt over whether it will be, is in the hands of the last man on earth that any Toon fan would want …..Mike Ashley.