Newcastle United have one of the best fan bases in the Premier League yet they lie in 18th position and have gone 70 years without a major piece of silverware. The iconic black and white stripes have it all to do once again in a Premier League season where they are fighting for survival.
On their day Newcastle are capable of beating anyone, this has been proved against the top four in previous seasons. However, this year, after rolling over to Manchester City they responded by putting six past Norwich.
This inconsistency has been a common trait amongst Newcastle teams past and present and there are no signs of improvement. The departure of Alan Pardew last season was met with mutual consent by the fans despite a relatively successful period at the club. Newcastle’s fortunes soon sank though as John Carver took charge and they limped to a 15th place finish.
This led to Steve McClaren entering the frame, with the former England boss a surprise choice for the Magpies after failing to promote Derby the previous season. A slow start to the season was met with anger by the fans as they were worse off than the previous year under Pardew with two points from six games. It was not until the demolition of Norwich that Newcastle earned their first win.
Steve McClaren’s record as a manager is not one of the highest order. Other than a title with FC Twente and the Capital One cup with Middlesbrough his CV does not contain a lot of accomplishments. In fact, McClaren’s success has come mainly in a coaching role, most notably under Sir Alex Ferguson in the treble winning year of 1999. However owner Mike Ashley has stuck by him so far as he oversees this sticky period.
After throwing away a two goal lead against Chelsea, the collapse continued in a dismal second half performance at the Etihad. Despite going in level at the break Steve McClaren’s team were unrecognisable in a half which was dominated by Sergio Aguero who netted four of his five goals in a 6-1 romp.
However Newcastle responded with the 6-2 hammering of Norwich in which Georginio Wijnaldum, a player who has been instrumental in everything that Newcastle have done this season, grabbed four goals of his own. Doubts of whether they can hold onto him through the January transfer window must already be creeping in. With performances of that standard, higher placed teams will surely be turning their heads.
Newcastle’s front man Aleksandar Mitrovic has had a mixed start to life in the Premier League with more cards than goals. However underlying talent is clearly visible and he could be important throughout this season, if he doesn’t get sent of first. The youngster has managed to be carded in low key games with nothing to provoke it so we will have to wait and see how he handles fiery situations or when defenders start to provoke him, trying to get a reaction.
Away from the derby against Sunderland, Newcastle have a nice run of fixtures going into December in which McClaren and his men will have to take a reasonable amount of points. A home game against Stoke is followed by a trip to Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth, Leicester at St. James’ Park before they go up against former manager Alan Pardew at Crystal Palace.
This time last year Newcastle went on a mazy run which, looking back on, saved their season and owner Mike Ashley will be looking for something similar otherwise he will be looking for another manager. Ashley has come under scrutiny over the years as Newcastle slowly fall away from the sharp end of the league. After last season’s final day survival he came out and guaranteed that Newcastle would once again be a top club and challenge for trophies. However they still remain in the relegation zone and are already out of the Capital One Cup, which was probably their best chance of silverware this season.
Newcastle fans will always be fearful of a repeat of the 08/09 season in which they were relegated from the Premier League for the first time and constant flirtation with the relegation zone every season can only result in one thing. Speculation over whether Ashley wants to sell the club is starting to pick up pace despite what the billionaire says. However, in order for him to see any profit, survival in the Premier League is a must. A new owner could revitalise Newcastle as a club but for now they remain stagnant under the rule of Mike Ashley.
Featured image taken by brutuxz123.
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