Steve McClaren – Dawn Of A New Era Or More Of The Same?

Words by Aziz Khalil – follow him on Twitter @azizk47

Written for NUFC360 - a new brand aiming to bring you all things Newcastle United. Be sure to follow for updates. Follow them @NUFC360

On June 10th 2015, Newcastle United (finally) appointed their replacement for the departed Alan Pardew. I should say long departed seeing as Pardew left us for Crystal Palace in January and left us in the (in)capable hands of John Carver & the other coachasaurus’ on the backroom team.

But let’s not dwell on the past which includes the 2nd half of last season under John ‘’best in the world’’ Carver.  On with the future under Steve McClaren. When his appointment was mooted in the press earlier in the year, and then again towards the end of last season when the club soiled themselves and tried to get him in for 3 games, I think it is safe to say the reaction of fans was mixed. I am included in that as I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I have since had chance to sit back, think, listen & learn about the man who is taking our club forward for at least 3 years.

McClaren, I feel comes from good coaching stock. He has been Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant & if you cannot learn anything from arguably the best manager the Premier League has ever seen then you shouldn’t be in the game. His time at Middlesbrough was fruitful and he gained valuable premier management experience there. He has tasted coaching on the continent with FC Twente and Wolfsburg  with mixed results in fairness but nevertheless will have taught him more to take forward in his career. He had a brief, less fruitful stint as England manager where I feel he simply bit off way more than he could chew. But who is going to turn down the opportunity to manage their country?

Then, after a brief spell back in Holland with Twente, he returned to England with Derby County who had just sacked Nigel Clough and were 15th in the championship. He not only steadied the ship, he got his team playing neat, tidy, quick attacking football with real purpose. He utilised the skills of players such as Will Hughes,  Jordan Ibe & striker Chris Martin who bagged Derby 40 goals in 2 seasons under McClaren. They were also quite hard to beat losing just 22 out of the 94 games he was there. A win percentage of just over 54%. Not to be sniffed at. Things turned sour for McClaren at Derby but there were many contributing factors to that, injury to top scorer Martin being the main one in my opinion.

So what can we expect from McClaren at Newcastle?

More of what we saw the first 18 months of his reign at Derby I think. He plays neat, tidy football with pace going forward. Hopefully he can sort our porous defence out & with a couple of decent centre backs and the right coaching that will happen. I think he can get the best out of our current better players such as Cabella, Sissoko, Janmaat, Colback & Perez . With the right coaching team backing him up, and obviously the big issue of sufficient investment which we know could go either way, I think Steve McClaren can bring an attractive brand of attacking, quick yet defensively tight football to Newcastle.

He has a wealth of experience from managing both on these shores and abroad and one thing I have noticed about McClaren over his career is how he reacts to setbacks. There are no excuses (take note Pardew & Carver) he simply gets up, wipes his nose and gets on with it. After the England debacle he could have disappeared into obscurity but he didn’t. He went abroad, he got his head down and came back stronger than before. That must be a benefit to both him and the players he know has as character in some of our squad has been questioned for some time.

So, in closing, I think I can say that in McClaren we have a solid yet unspectacular man in charge. But that being said the football will be better and I firmly believe he can change the club and the squad mentality for the better.

Onwards And Upwards.

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