It has been yet another long old slog for the Newcastle United faithful as we head into December. Steve McClaren’s side have been toothless so far this season which is reflected in their 19th position in the Premier League. The Geordies have issues at both ends, they have conceded 30 goals already this season which gives them the joint worst defensive record, which is only equaled by newly-promoted AFC Bournemouth.
Following another training ground bust-up where the Newcastle manager aired a few “home truths” in the week he had hoped that the trip to Crystal Palace would bare some kind of respectability, nothing could be further from the truth.
Newcastle started well and took the lead after 10 minutes, it looked for a short-time that maybe McClaren’s hair-dryer treatment may have worked. Unfortunately for the travelling contingent it was not to be. It took Palace just four minutes to get back on level terms thanks to midfielder James McArthur helped by a deflection from Newcastle defender Paul Dummett. On 17 minutes the hosts turned the game on its head, Fabricio Coloccini failed to clear effectively, the ball fell kindly to Yannick Bolasie who buried it, it would be a very long afternoon for the visitors.
Wilfried Zaha made it three before half-time. Some good work from the ever impressive Bolasie who floated a ball in from the left, Zaha dispatched with aplomb, volleying into the roof of the Newcastle net. Effectively game over, and not for the first week McClaren was looking at more damage limitation.
Alan Pardew’s men carried on where they left off from the first 45 minutes, just two minutes into the second half the home-side made it 4-1, that man Bolasie again punishing some shambolic defending from the visitors. Unsurprisingly it was all Palace, they created numerous chances and could have won by a cricket score, thankfully for the away fans it took until stoppage time for a fifth to hit the back of their net, Bolasie was involved again utilising his pace, McArthur got his second of the game and rounded off a good day at the office for Alan Pardew and a unprofessional and naive display from the visitors.
That is now eight goals conceded in their last 2 games following on from the 3-0 loss at Leicester City last weekend, It would not be a surprise to see a managerial change happening sooner than later. The Magpies see themselves firmly in a relegation battle as they sit 2 points behind local rivals Sunderland in 17th.
Squad investment in the past has been an on-going talking point from the Newcastle faithful, this Summer they spent money but you have to ask yourself whether there was indeed enough investment. £36 million was spent on three players in the summer; Chancel Mbemba (£8.5m), Aleksandar Mitrovic (£13m) both from Anderlecht and Georginio Wijnaldum (£14.5m) from PSV Eindhoven.
This is not the only problem at St. James Park by any means, it has been well documented how owner Mike Ashley has repetitively tried to sell the club, but for now he looks like he is concentrating on the club’s well-being but how long that persists is anyone’s guess.
You cannot fail to notice how disjointed the squad really looks, there is no unity and that buck stops with the manager. Newcastle have made good signings, especially Wijnaldum who settled quickly to the Premier League. The one lingering question is whether McClaren has the capability of leading a club with the stature of Newcastle United football club.
In football, hindsight is a wonderful thing, but the group of supporters that slammed both Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce at the club must be wishing either of those English managers were at the club, especially Allardyce who is starting to turn around Sunderland’s hopes, they looked dead and buried before his arrival.
McClaren on the other hand doesn’t have a particularly impressive CV, yes he won the Eredivisie with FC Twente but that pales into significance with the job that he decided to take on in the Summer. If Newcastle are to stave off relegation a lot needs to change. To concede 30 goals in 14 premier league games is nowhere near good enough add that to the lack of goals in the team, just 14 league goals this season. This promises to be a Winter of discontent for McClaren and Newcastle, the fixtures aren’t getting any easier with Liverpool (H) and Tottenham (A) in their next two games.
It will be a huge January transfer window for the Magpies but it remains to be seen whether McClaren will still be there to turn their fortunes around.
Featured image: all rights reserved by Dom Fellowes