Steve McClaren has been appointed Newcastle manager with a bit of a mixed reaction within the world of football and, in particular, Newcastle United fans.

I am not going to list his achievements or his failures here as this has been extensively covered on The Mag before and elsewhere. However, like him or not he has at least won trophies both in England and abroad, which is something other British managers (Pulis, Allardyce, Moyes, Monk, Hughes, Pardew etc) haven’t done. Despite this fact, many people in the media continue to make out that these managers are indeed managerial master class.

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Looking back to when Pardew left, there were a number of opinions in the media asking which respectable manager would ever want the Newcastle job under the circumstances?

It was reported that the new man would have no say in transfers, would have his best players sold as soon as somebody makes a bid for them and then when he loses a few games on the bounce, he would have the Newcastle fans setting up websites to get rid of him. Therefore none of the “proper managers” mentioned above would go anywhere near the job.

So is this still the situation at the club, or after Mike Ashley’s interview at the end of the season have things actually changed, or are we again all looking at a summer of false promises, constant paper speculation with no result and ultimately huge disappointment?

Looking at the appointment and Steve McClaren’s position, it looks fairly promising in the fact that not only has he been appointed as head coach but he is also now a member of the board, this should give him a big say in what players are brought into the club and which are shipped out.

Rather than having no say on transfers which was reported previously, he will have a major say along with Graham Carr and then I presume it will be over to Lee Charnley to get them ‘over the line’ as Pardew was so fond of saying.

As for player outgoings, as a board member you would expect players that he was desperate to keep hold of, will stay unless the transfer fits a certain criteria. This could be ridiculous money being offered, like the case with Andy Carroll, or somebody offering £10m plus for a 30 year old Papiss Cisse.

The board will therefore rightly make a decision that this deal is too good to turn down.  Another reason for the sale of a required player would be if they go on strike or publicly announce a desire to move to another club like Cabaye did and which it is not inconceivable that Sissoko will do.  There is also a chance a player has a clause in their contract like Demba Ba had and there isn’t much the club can do about it.

So if there are outgoings this summer then we do need to look at the whole situation, rather than just going down the tired media route of saying same old Newcastle selling their best players.

He has also been allowed to get rid of current members of staff that he didn’t want and as we speak he is attempting to bring his own men in, again it was reported in the media that the new man will have to work with Carver and others as his backroom staff as the club would be unwilling to terminate their lengthy contracts, this has again been proved wrong and McClaren can now choose his own backroom staff with a fairly clean slate.


It seems the appointment of Ian Cathro as assistant manager is imminent and looking at his CV it sounds like exactly the forward thinking young British coach that we need at the club.

If rumours are to be believed, then it seems Steve Black will also have a role at the club which would be received well by the majority of fans due to his time at the club during the Keegan years and the positive things spoken about him by many ex players and in particular Johnny Wilkinson.

There has been criticism regarding knock backs by Phil Neville, Bolo Zenden and Steve Round but as long as the new management team is set up with top quality coaches before ASAP I don’t see a problem.

One other area that would appeal to a new head coach is that Mike Ashley doesn’t seem the type to get rid of somebody after a few bad results and discontent from the fans, if this was the case Pardew would have been sacked several times!  This therefore provides McClaren with some job security and he is able to take a longer term view to managing the club and player recruitment which can only be a positive thing for any manager.

So far so good right?  Surely there must have been managers and coaches queuing up to take the job…

Well the most important part of the summer and the big question that every Newcastle fan is waiting to be answered is, will money be spent in this transfer window and if so, how much.  This can’t be guaranteed and it wouldn’t be the first time the club have been let down badly by dealings within the boardroom.

All of the above will mean absolutely nothing if Mike Ashley doesn’t put his hand in his pocket and provide some serious funds to improve a struggling team.


After Liverpool’s lightning start to transfer dealings, many people are starting to doubt that major finances will be provided and are yet to be convinced that anything has changed.

It is also worth remembering that many fans were happy with the progress made by Newcastle last summer in the transfer window when they brought in Colback and Perez early, which was followed by two Dutch internationals in Janmaat and De Jong and the marquee signing of Cabella for £12m.

Two promising British youngsters in Lascelles and Darlow were also bought and sent back to their clubs to gain further experience.

Some people were even praising Charnley for his transfer dealings.  It was the January window and the sale of two defenders and no replacements brought in that upset most and left a shallow squad heading into freefall with a head coach who couldn’t address the slide.

All fans are waiting anxiously to see who the first new arrivals are through the door.

Talk of transfer war chests and the need for anything between 6 and 12 new players.

This is just my opinion but I don’t believe a complete clear out of playing staff is required, a complete overhaul can be a dangerous thing at a football club as players take time to get to know each other and foreign players in particular can take time to acclimatise to a new league, in particular the premier league.

I feel that a lot of the problems from last season were down to the ineptitude of the management and coaches at the club who have now thankfully gone.

Most people feel that Steve McClaren is an excellent coach and this has been stated many times by players and coaches he has worked with in the past, so part of the club’s thinking in appointing him must surely be focused towards him getting the best out of, or improving, players we currently have.

A core group of Krul, Janmaat, Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Tiote, Sissoko, De Jong, Anita, Cabella and Cisse all underperformed under the previous management.

Add to that group some youth in the way of Colback, Dummett, Perez, Lascelles, Woodman, Darlow, Aarons and Armstrong and the squad isn’t in my opinion in need of major surgery.

What I do think the squad needs, is major investment in key areas.  The club needs to go out and spend big on top players with big personalities who can walk into the dressing room and command respect.

I am not so worried about the lack of movement in the transfer market so far, as we don’t need players being brought in just for the sake of it, or to put a stop to people complaining about the lack of signings.

When we do eventually bring some players in I hope it is a clear sign of intent and the arrival of some much needed quality and leadership.

If that doesn’t happen then I agree with many and feel that we could again be in for a long hard season of struggle but we have only just seen the back of June and I am prepared to see what happens over the next month.

As ever though with Newcastle United it is only one person who can decide on the direction the club will take and in a month from now we will probably have a clearer idea of which direction that will be.

Christmas Gifts -

  • ChrisHosking

    Have they seen our sqaud its full of has been and players who couldent break into the first team if we had decent players

  • radgiegadgie

    Probably need a whole new back 4 either as starting players or cover for the likes of Janmaat.

    Also need a decent striker.  I am sure the coaching team can work with the rest if they are worth their salt.

  • ncncnc

    hopefully an end to playing players out of position, that would be a start. i agree good coaching can make a huge impact, still need some areas like a new forward and a couple of wingers (cabella isnt one – he’s one that was played out of position apart from in the 2 games he actually looked decent in) and another centre half to start would be good

  • GToon

    Colo is too slow now, Willo is always going to be average at best. Decent coaching might make some difference but some of the players just aren’t that good. A really good centre half, a really good central midfielder and a really good forward to give the spine of the team much needed strength is required. I fear Ashley is thinking along the lines of your title hence the inactivity in the transfer market. By the time he has finished counting his money there’ll be nobody left.

  • Andgeo

    This guys definitely renewed his season ticket!

  • Kev82

    Sorry but no good coaching can turn our average to poor players into good players. We need at least 2xCB a left back, 2 wingers and a striker to get us back in the top 10.

  • Conman

    Really. He’s a decent coach by all accounts. He isn’t Harry bloody potter.

  • desree

    Phil, you are one season away from giving up hope like me. Last season I was trying to see the positives, I’ve realised that we are led by a bunch of incompetent fools.
    We have 4 decent players at best in janmaat, perez – krull and sissoko when they turn up. Based on what I have seen of the rest – shammy is interesting cardiff, collback is comparable to aaron hughes when we had Batty and speed in previous years – he is no comparison.
    Cisse, Collo, taylor, de jong are all ready for the knackers yard.
    We could blame Pardew for anita, obertan, HBA, marveaux, cabella, m mbiwa etc etc, put their failure down to coaching. Or we could also look that our recruitment is wrong given that everyone of these players except marveaux had no other club in for them.
    No fan of pards by the way and Mbiwa I think was never given a fair crack.But to suggest that a good coach will turn a bunch of donkeys into thoroughbreds is wildly optimistic mate.

  • 1957

    The previous incumbents were simply poor coaches with payers at the club who didn’t fit the limited long ball tactics they preferred, it’s why Pardew loves Shola. Despite what some people say the players are better than they looked last year, yes there is a lot of deadwood but there is a core there to work with. The new players need to be of quality, I’d rather have 4 good players than 6 or 7 average ones, I would go for 2 defenders, Colo is finished at the top level, and two forwards. I’d then add 2 or 3 ones for the future on top to have some forward planning.
    There needs to be a real push over the next season to bring through some young players, if we don’t play them we’ll never know if they can make it.
    An observation on a comment below, you can’t compare Aaron Hughes to Colback, Aaron was esentially a defender who had a good career domestically an internationally so he couldn’t be that bad. I accept the comparison with Speed but Batty was never a player I enjoyed watching, he was far too negative.

  • Shipcote Willy

    Sorry cant agree. McClaren failed in his last three jobs one of which was Championship level. He is in the last chance saloon. Mourhino couldn’t turn these players into winners and only five or six are are good enough for the squad and even fewer for the top eight we allegedly aspire to. Without huge investment its anorher battle at the bottom.

  • Shipcote Willy

    McClaren played Bamford, a centre forward, on the wing, thats why he chose Boro last year

  • Duke Fame

    very good article, exactly right in that the coaching staff and board look like a step in the right direction.

    we do need players and I think we will see two in the next week. most of the rumours are pretty encouraging, even the Ashley Cole whisper makes a lot of sense considering we are bringing through a good left back if a little injury prone. as long as the incoming come and the outgoing are replaced, I’m quite excited.

  • Duke Fame

    Shipcote Willy  he took Derby from a struggling championship side to the best footballing side in the division. my question mark is against his ability to deal with pressure, he’s struggled where pressure has built up and nufc can create pressure often out of nowhere.

  • DownUnderMag

    Good coaching is a must, but even the best coaches need the players to back them up.  Pardew was bailed out by occasionally stumbling onto the right tactics and the good players at his disposal saw him win more games than he probably should have, now they are all gone there was a huge gap in quality at the end of last season.  New players are a must.
    Also Shipcote Willy – his last three jobs were not very successful, but Forrest were not exactly a powerhouse, returning to Twente brought too high an expectation, and Derby were a struggling outfit when he took over, so missing out on promotion via the playoff final and then leading the league for most of the following season until we came in and clouded the affair isn’t exactly a bad turnaround.  Sometimes, like Forrest and Wolfsburg, the move just doesn’t work out, be it expectations or whatever…if he comes here, steadies the ship and tries in the cups with a top half finish THAT is success for us under the finances we currently run.  That is sad but it’s not McClarens fault.
    It still astounds me how many fans are writing McClaren off before a ball has even been kicked.  It’s almost as if they WANT the club to fail just so they have something else to bitch about!

  • desree

    Whilst position wise you can’t in terms of quality I think Collback is a similr player to aaron hughes, a decent pro and good squad player – no more.. a good lad but when i think back to clarkie and watson he isn’t even in their class.

  • desree

    wtf are we all arguing about- have the coaching staff even been confirmed?

  • Alsteads

    Some of those players you mention actually completely gave up in games last season and for me they need bouncing out the club ASAP. The fact we have a new coach and set up and they might just fancy it this season isn’t my idea of a TEAM. In fact you struggle to put together a lot of those players in any definition of the word team. Alongside limited capabilities we DO need half a dozen players in

  • 1957

    I accept your point about Colback but I don’t think anyone thought he would be anything else when he signed, but with 4 goals and 6 assists (equal top with Janmaat) he made a useful contribution in a poorly performing side.
    You can’t really compare footballers from 20 years ago to today, the game has changed that much. Of their time Clark was only ever a good squad player playing in a very good team, Keegan saw this a bought Batty. Watson could have been a really good player if he had been given a settled position and left there rather than moved from position to position to fill for that weeks injury like Paul Madely did at Leeds in the 70’s.. Not developing him was a failure of Keegan’s time at NUFC.

  • desree

    agree 1957, it shows how bad the rest of the team are if Collback has made such a significant contribution.

  • Paul Patterson

    I draw similarities with Ruud Gullit leaving and Sir Bobby coming in.

    A side with decent potential, with good players (Given/Krul, Dabizas/Colo, Speed/Colback, Dyer/Perez) Shearer/Cisse) that was underperforming, needed a shot in the arm and got one. Signings were made and the club was boosted as a result.

    This time round, we only need four or five players and the good players that are there already to buck their ideas up like in 1999.

    However, I had more faith in the negotiating skills of the club in 1999 than now . .

  • Hez

    Paul Patterson  Hope you aren’t suggesting McLaren can be compared to Bobby Robson, Cisse to Shearer and Colback to Speed, that would be ridiculous as they are worlds apart

  • Chemical Dave

    Are you Bobby Concur ?

  • Chemical Dave

    Stopped reading at the suggestion that he’d have a say in outgoing and incoming transfers….eight years on and the penny still won’t drop.

  • LeazesEnder

    Is your head made of wood Pinocchio?

  • desree

    I draw similarities with that team too. Cisse/big Dunc either injured or banned, Collo/marcelino, Perez/dyer collback/nowhere near gary speed but miles better than maric.

  • Paul Patterson

    Hez Paul Patterson  No, just a similarity. Although, if Cisse was in a good side he’d get 20 goals a season and Colback should be played as a Speed-type player.

  • TonnekToon

    The biggest problem is the Owner and the M.D.  All we get are false promises  . The hierarchy’s Lies are set permanently on default .

  • v0ices

    Duke Fame Shipcote Willy best footballing side? hahahaha lunatic.