Steve McClaren’s final gamble goes spectacularly wrong
When your mistakes contribute to putting your football club in a real mess, it is usual that you then find bad luck piles on top of that, which is what Steve McClaren is discovering – particularly in the last 24 hours.
Newcastle United’s defending reached a new low at Crystal Palace and the pressure on particularly McClaren and his Captain, Fabricio Coloccini, looked to have brought things to breaking point.
Fans were aghast when Coloccini was both confirmed as captain and given an extended contract just before the season kicked off.
Apart from the odd decent game, his performances as a defender have been mostly poor to shocking. Whilst his captaincy has been as bad as ever, showing zero leadership on or off the pitch.
When it was announced this week that Jamaal Lascelles had a hamstring injury and Mike Williamson was being recalled from his loan spell at Wolves, there was a poll on The Mag.
The result of that was overwhelming, with 89% of the fans who voted, thinking that Coloccini should be dropped from both the team and as captain, with Mike Williamson replacing him (as a defender!).
Interviewed on his return, Williamson said he was gutted to be leaving Wolves as he was really enjoying his time there, but it looked crystal clear that he had been told he was coming back to play for Newcastle and not just sit on the bench.
Mike Williamson Wednesday 2 December 2015:
“In a way I was enjoying it but if I’m going to come back to play, then this is where I want to be, in the Premier League.”
It looked an open and closed case, with the decision apparently made to at last ‘rest’ Coloccini as both a player and captain and at least give something else a try at the heart of the defence.
However, as I’ve said above, when you least want something to go wrong…it usually does.
Steve McClaren asked the following Thursday 3 December 2015 at his press conference:
‘You have got Mike Williamson back, could he go straight in on Sunday?’
“Ehmm, we would like to have thought so but I think he has just tweaked his hamstring in training and he has to have a scan on that, to know the extent.
“So we will know more later but that’s a little worry.”
So Thursday morning, only minutes before his Liverpool press conference, Plan B was already smashed to smithereens.
We obviously aren’t on the inside and you can only guess what version the club/McClaren will now come up with, as to what the plan was supposedly all along but….
I think it is clear that this Sunday was going to be the big shake-up, the final gamble to at last wake the team up and change a number of players, with dropping the captain at the heart of it.
Now we are back to the Plan A which has looked little like any kind of a plan for most of these 14 Premier League matches.
If indeed Coloccini was going to be dropped, which I believe was definitely the case, then he would have already been well aware of this and even in training he would have been on the ‘other team’ when playing 11 v 11.
We have a player and captain who was always terrible in the air and had now lost any pace he did once have, who has been poor and looked totally unmotivated for 90%+ of the last three years or so since he tried to leave Newcastle in the lurch halfway through the near relegation season of 2012/13.
For Steve McClaren it is like he has pushed all of his roulette chips onto black in a last ditch all or nothing gamble, only to then see all the black numbers disappear before the wheel is even spun.
If Coloccini lacked character and motivation before, what is he going to be like knowing that he is only staying in the team, and presumably as captain, because Mike Williamson has picked up an injury?
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