We are only 8 games into the season yet the optimism and hope held out by fans at the start of the season has been shattered, following consecutive home defeats to Watford and Sheffield Wednesday. The magpies remain winless in the league with only Sunderland managing to have a poorer start. (be it only by one goal).
Hopes were high going into the season. The transfer window saw the arrival of Georginio Wijnaldum, Aleksander Mitrovic and Chancel Mbemba, with Florian Thauvin arriving a few weeks into the season. These transfers totalled around £50 million, and was an unprecedented window for the Ashley regime.
Although these players came with pedigree most fans believed more needed to be done, notably in defensive positions. Nevertheless fans remained confident going into the new season with new man Steve McClaren at the helm, and the old dead weight on the coaching bench shifted.
McClaren wasn’t most fans first choice, but would certainly bring something new to the table after 5 years of humdrum football under Alan Pardew. He said all the right things in the media and seemed to bring some fresh ideas to his coaching. For many this was the start of the turnaround at Newcastle.
However fast forward to now and Newcastle sit second from bottom with another early cup exit, with some fans talking about relegation already. Newcastle’s only win in 8 games came against Northampton at home, with the poor form culminating in defeat at home to Watford and Sheffield Wednesday.
Performances have simply not been good enough all the way through the team. Tempo, organisation, creativity, composure, none of it is there at the moment and fans are right to be worried about what has actually changed. The team has not gelled at all in the early parts of the season. There have been one or two moments; the hard fought draw at Old Trafford, the 10 man resilience against Arsenal and the first game of the season against Southampton. However on the whole it has been very poor.
I think most would agree that confidence in the squad is at an all time low at Newcastle; this is especially costly in the final third of the pitch. With a reasonably strong team out, McClaren’s men managed just one shot on target against a weakened Sheffield Wednesday side. Creating chances and scoring goals has got to be top of the list for McClaren.
So the question is now what will the response be? The fixtures have not been kind to us this season thus far, and up next is Chelsea at home followed by Man City away. Fans won’t expect much from these games and 2 more defeats will put a mountain of pressure on Steve McClaren’s shoulders.
You could argue the season starts with the games after Man City; Norwich, Mackems, Stoke, Bournemouth, Leicester and Palace. A decent run in these games is definitely achievable with our squad, and even one win could boost the confidence of the whole club so we can start to play some half decent football.
I’m a patient fan, and I am not willing to call this situation a ‘crisis’ although it is bleak. We have 32 games left in the Premier league this season with that decent run of games coming up, two or three wins and the table looks very different. If that goes to pot, then we really are in trouble and serious questions will be asked once again.
McClaren has his work cut out and hasn’t done much to win over fans so far this season, in fact it seems like we haven’t progressed at all as a team since the end of last season. However I’m positive that it will all click into place for the team in the next month and the rebuild can start, not all hope is lost just yet.
If I’m wrong, it’s going to be a long season.