Two weeks ago The Mag were kind enough to publish my (then) latest article, which was entitled ‘The words I dread hearing Steve McClaren say’.

(To feature like John, send in your articles for our website to [email protected] – all views those of the author etc etc)

On 28 June I wrote the following:

In three days time Steve McClaren will meet the Newcastle squad for the first time.

When he meets the players on Wednesday he will then have only a week and a half before the squad flies off to America, so you would imagine he’ll want to take stock as soon as possible and see which players are good, bad and indifferent.

We all know Newcastle are desperate for a number of first team ready new signings and hopefully Steve McClaren will see in days what the vast majority of us have learnt over the course of months and years.

I have this horrible feeling that by next Friday or possibly the start of the following week, we’ll hear the dreaded words…

“I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the depth and the quality in the squad of players I have inherited, I think I have plenty to work with here blah blah blah.”

I have to say that my heart sank when I read what Steve McClaren had had to say this weekend, two weeks after what I had written above.

Steve McClaren:

“Most places you come in and you’ve got a lot of work to do and there’s a lot of work to do in terms of everything around the club. Internally this is better.

“We have got a good squad, good young players. Sometimes you come in and you have got four or five 30 year olds you have got to make decisions on and get out. Here they are young players and we want to buy young players and produce them.”

“From being inside the club, it is in better shape than I thought it was when I looked from the outside, if that makes any sense. It was a more pleasant surprise than you sometimes get.

“When you go into a club sometimes you have a perception but you go in and you think ‘Oh my word’. This is being dictated to you or that is. But here it is a good situation.”

steve mcclaren

Now it is not that I think it is all doom and gloom but I do really really hope that Steve McClaren was being economical with the truth when he said this above.

Wijnaldum looks a great signing but a few people appear to have found it all too easy to forget just how bad it was last season.

The general consensus before we signed anybody was that at least six players who could go straight into the first team were required, despite our PSV recruit is better than we anticipated, I still believe that we are desperate for those other five signings.

This morning the following players (Wijnaldum to follow later) flew out to America for pre season, imagine if it was Southampton instead we were preparing for and these were the players we had to rely on….

Goalkeepers: Karl Darlow, Freddie Woodman, Tim Krul,

Defenders: Fabricio Coloccini, Curtis Good, Jamaal Lascelles, Massadio Haidara, Daryl Janmaat, Steven Taylor, Mike Williamson

Midfielders: Rolando Aarons, Vurnon Anita, Gael Bigirimana, Gabriel Obertan, Jack Colback, Siem de Jong, Shane Ferguson, Yoan Gouffran, Moussa Sissoko, Georginio Wijnaldum (joining the squad later)

Strikers: Adam Armstrong, Papiss Cisse, Ayoze Perez, Emmanuel Riviere

Take away the three goalkeepers and you have 20 outfield players plus Wijnaldum, I can honestly say that at least half of them I would not want near the first team for Southampton.

Either because they have been shown to not be good enough (Williamson, Anita, Gouffran, Ferguson, Riviere, Bigirimana and so on) or are too young and/or played so few games you can’t know for sure what they can contribute at this time – Armstrong, Aarons, Good, Lascelles etc.

The very fact that a lot of these players are going for pre season to America has me worried, as in why have they bothered taking so many of them if there are indeed going to be major changes and players dispensed with?

Let’s hope that there is an awful lot of work going on behind the scenes because one or two marquee signings aren’t going to be able to do the job by themselves. If for no other reason than you can’t rely on a couple of new signings integrating immediately (especially from abroad) and staying fit all season.

Hopefully Steve McClaren’s words were some kind of positive thinking therapy for players, staff and fans alike.

Then he will get onto the more important positive action and ensure that Mike Ashley knows just how many players are needed to enable the club to bounce back.



  • Blackandwhiteblood

    Doom and gloomers getting desperate with this. You can’t buy an entire squad in one window. You move them on as more come in, but until then, this is what we’ve got. The 24 who’ve gone are just numbers. This booking was made months ago remember. The evidence points to big changes, but you just can’t let it go. If you listen to what McClaren said, by the next three windows we’ll have virtually a different team. He’s not Ashley. Nor is he part of some bizarre conspiracy against the fans. He wants what we want and he knows exactly how much money is available. He’s not Pardew or Carver. Give him a break until he lies to us – IFsuch a time arrises.

  • JohnnyNUFC

    More doom and gloom, things are changing and though it may take some time I’m pleased with what’s going on and I’m pleased youngsters like Good and Bigirimana are finally been given a chance to show what they can do.

  • JamesShaughnessyLawrence

    Is it just me……or where the fook is Cheick………again????????

  • PhilScott

    State of mind is so much of a factor in any sport. I don’t think the players we have are anywhere near as bad as the league position suggested, just the aura surrounding the place must have been a fkin nightmare to work in.I think if you took the same players and put them at a different club, without the bollox that was going on, they would’ve been fine.Even Anita had a god last game of the season.New bloke in charge, new ideas, new outlook , it seems, from the club itself (to a degree).This is Ashley’s last chance to do it right,imo. If nowt gets better he’ll go back to buy em cheap + fingers crossed.As far as I’m concerned,it’s best to just see what happens.Looks like they’re gonna give it a go.Defender or two in ( Willo out, sorry pal ) and I’ll be looking forward to the season proper.

  • Magnus51

    Thank you for the most realistic article I’ve read so far.

  • desree

    have to agree with Phil scott, we have guys like Curtis Good who is an australian international and never played. We have players like abeid, marveaux both with quality but not nurtured.
    We have already seen a distinct shift in the coaching methods. We clearly have in McLaren a better leader than pardew and a guy who appears to be able to create a professional culture.
    I think it is becoming apparent that the two biggest issues have been under investment in the team and the poor quality of coaching.
    And Mclaren has done what Keegan couldn’t, get ashley to spend some wedge.

  • DownUnderMag

    Glass half empty much??
    I personally take his quotes as a sign of optimism.  Yes i’m sure he knows he needs more quality AND quantity in the squad as is stands.  Would you prefer he came in and slagged off the whole squad saying they were rubbish?  You think that is the way to start out and do you think that will get the desired response on the pitch??
    Like it or not, McClaren needs to work with what he has for the time being.  I think the fact we have been on some good runs even under Pardew (more by good luck than good management it needs to be said) shows we do have quality in the squad.  We need additions and we need some luck on the injury front, but overall I don’t think we have as bad a set of players as some make out, it is just that the head-coach needs to understand each players limitations and work towards their strengths more…Pardew didn’t, he normally played directly to their weaknesses and I suspect it will take some time before they get the “hoof-ball” mentality knocked out of them.
    We are light on numbers and players haven’t been developed and coached properly…i’m willing to see what happens.  We are spending and McClaren needs time to change the players mentality. 
    I also think a manager trying to inject some positivity shouldn’t be construed as a bad thing!!!

  • stepaylor

    With our Dutch contingent i can see us getting Van Dijk from celtic which will be a big help. He is big and strong and can pass the ball very well.

    we need ideally 2 top strikers but i would be happy with Charlie Austin. Swap Thauvin for Cabella and we will have decent first eleven but limited back up. We will finish between 8th and 10th with those changes.

  • 1957

    There are players in the squad who are much better than they showed in the run in last season. It was obvious that the coaching staff had ‘lost’ the players and players weren’t performing and they deserve criticism for that, but would want to work for a man who blamed you publically for his shortcomings.
    I have no doubt McClaren and Steve Black will have sussed who isn’t up to it, getting rid of them is another thing so he needs to keep them onside. Better this than sending them to train with the reserves or youth team as per our previous coaching staff’s MO.
    McClaren at this point seems to have a clear idea of what he needs, more playersvwill come, I’d just rather take time to get the right ones.

  • Wallsendstu

    Carver tried telling them all they were useless in one breath then saying how good individuals are. You can’t expect McClaren to get players on his side by not saying he is impressed with what he has found. There are some good players in there and contrary to what some expect shipping loads of them out cannot be done in one hit others have tried and failed. That is why he is talking of the next three windows as being important. It is up to the club to back him and show they mean business and not revert to type.

  • Jezza_NUFC

    desree  Kevin Keegan took NUFC from the brink of relegation to the third division to a 3rd place finish in the Premiership within the space of a mere two years. Two years later he almost won the Premiership title. He also persuaded Fat Fred to pay a world record transfer fee. It might be an idea to wait till McClaren has achieved something similar at this club before you start making comparisons.

  • Adam_B

    John and ArtyH are 100%
    correct.
    Last year our squad was not good enough and a bottom 7 position, even
    accepting the pish coaching, was about where we righty were. Since then, we
    have signed 1 good looking midfielder (and we still have Sissoko, Colbeck De Jong
    and Tiote….) whilst at the same time, the clubs above and below us have all
    invested and improved. Let’s be clear, we are desperate for 2-3 more signings to
    avoid a relegation battle and 4-5 more signings if we hope for a finish
    in 6-9th in the table.
    We are short of quality
    up front, at the back and on the wings. Janmaat apart, our defence seems the
    most in need of quality and still no real signs of an imminent arrival with the
    pre-season now well under way.
    I do get the points made by some like Blackandwhiteblood about it needing time to restructre the squad, and that is a fair enough apart from the fact that we were really very, very poor last season so getting from that mess to top 11 will require much transfer activity even given a much better coaching set up.
    So, we have acquired a very nice horse, thank
    you, but in relation to the cart, we are still short of a couple of wheels
    Mr Ashley and the best horses in the world need that if they are going to get
    anywhere…….

  • Jezza_NUFC

    Adam_B  Excellent insightful comment.

  • signing good players, ok.
    But hahaa.. Sreve Mcclaren, I’m not sure

  • Mal44

    You could hardly expect him to say ‘I’ve inherited a right load of rubbish here’. Some of those players you  list might look a good deal better if the new coaching team is any good. Let’s face it, Messi would have looked average under Carver and Stone. I know one swallow doesn’t make a summer but there are positive signs that there will be further recruitment. Fingers crossed.

  • Michael Maximus Moose

    Mal44
    He did inherit a load of Shyte, End of Story

  • Jievo

    The attitude that we need a whole new squad has worried me from the moment it was suggested. Nobody is denying that so far in 2015 our team has been atrocious. We must also remember that despite regular periods of dire form under Pardew, we also had moments of real undeniable quality, and it was mostly the same players. There are lads we need out, yes, lots of them. There are areas we desperately need to improve. But the core of our first team underperformed massively last season and a half decent coach would have secured a lower mid table finish. A new striker and a new centre half are very much needed, but those who claim we need 2 strikers, 2 midfielders, 4 defenders and a new tea lady are taking the piss, think about other teams who’ve replaced their entire squad in one fell swoop, Sunderland ringing any bells? Krul, Haidara, Dummett, Janmaat, Colback, Abeid, Wijnaldum, Sissoko, Perez, Cisse, Aarons, De Jong. That’s a decent core for a premier league team, now let’s evolve it, not dump the baby with the bath water.

  • Black Star 69

    Jezza_NUFC desree Unlike Keegan McClaren has actually won things in his management career.  He won the League Cup with Boror and the Dutch League with a team which had never won squat.  Was part of the Manure team that won the treble.

  • TonnekToon

    Unfortunately McClaren can only work with what he’s inherited as things stand , but if the regime sanctions further signings of a decent caliber in the positions that need upgrading , then that and a change  in the standard of coaching that we’ve had to endure the last few seasons , has to be a big step forward . Also not insulting players and letting them ply their trade in their right positions has to be a game changer in regards to better performances.

  • Porciestreet

    Wallsendstu 
    Well, He’s a director so has every chance of his statements actually coming to fruition Ashley obviously wants him there for stability in the long term so lets wait and see.  Mind you, he did that with P45 and look where that got us. 
    However, cup half full…………!

  • Porciestreet

    stepaylor 
    Thauvin is na great shout, but just got that naggin feelin that hes a bit of a home-bird and may want to stay in France.

  • Porciestreet

    DownUnderMag 
    Think you hit the nail on the head there DUM. It seems that P45 was more interested in utilising players to avoid their weanesses rather than use what little he could find as a talent. I know it’s only a suttle difference to what you said   but it would have made a hell of a difference .

  • Porciestreet

    Blackandwhiteblood 
    Think about it , how many of the squad that travelled to Ausi last pre-season actually came through and had a good season. Pre-season tours normally mean jack. They’re normally for fitness and eye openers for the manager. Not much more.

  • HoratioChapman

    What a silly article.
    How are the younger players ever going to get experience, muppet.
    Players respond to different managers in different ways so give it a rest until we’ve seen how the squad react to a whole new training system.

  • Blackandwhiteblood

    Porciestreet Blackandwhiteblood agree mate. Tiote would’ve gone had he not been a naughty boy and others had they been fit. That would’ve resulted in others being left behind. I never read anything into pre season results anyway, but it’ll be interesting to see who can or can’t adapt to Macca’s new footballing philosophy.

  • Blackandwhiteblood

    stepaylor doesn’t look like thauvin is moving anywhere, which is a shame with that sweet left foot of his. I think we should reserve judgement on Cabella until we see his second season. Macca’s philosophy will definitely suit him more than Pardew or Carver’s hoofball.

  • Blackandwhiteblood

    1957 it appears we older fans have more patience than the younger ones, but then, we’ve seen how bad it can really be! He needs time to change attitudes and bring in the quality he wants. Why blow all that lovely money on rash signings? If Gini is the benchmark, then I’m well prepared to give him time. Four more of that calibre is worth far more than blowing it on a dozen players no better than what we’ve got. We do have talent in the current squad if Macca can bring it out. He’s here for a minimum of three years, so let’s see where we are in two before condemning him a failure – as others already have bizarrely.

  • Happyharrys2011

    We aye !!!! 8th 10th without any new defenders. Give your head a shake m8.

  • Happyharrys2011

    He spews a bit of $hit and makes one signing and he’s compared to King Kev.
    We aye !!!!