Steve McClaren Saying All the Right Things


Steve McClaren has me believing Newcastle management made the correct move in hiring him.  McClaren gave an interview with The Chronicle yesterday in which he answered many of the questions that the fans are wondering about.  As is often the case with coaches just starting out with a new club, all the questions had a pristine answer prepared.  I do believe that the words spoken by McClaren will serve him well in winning over support of the fans at Newcastle.  He offered a practical vision for the club and a philosophy to get behind.  There were three big questions that needed to be answered:

More from Newcastle News

1. Playing style

When asked about the playing style that he plans to implement, McClaren gave a very realistic answer.  He said that his style will be a results based, there will be room for exciting attacking soccer, but to win the match is most important.  This is the exact style that Newcastle needs to employ.  Without the abundance of talent that a Manchester City, or Arsenal are able to put in the team, Newcastle can’t always afford to play an open style of game.  To set up an organized defensive team that is able to quickly strike on the counter is what the game is trending toward and how teams that are not as talented can win matches.  McClaren also wants to bring back a true number 9 to the team.  He cited the history in the club having a talismanic front man, that can be the focal point of the attack.  This leads me to believe the club will exhaust all their options in signing Charlie Austin as he can be that lead striker.

2. Familiarity with the Club

McClaren spoke about how well he knows the club from his experience living and managing in the area.  He said that he has been living in the area for the past 15 years.  Those 15 years include time spent managing fellow Northeast club Middlesbrough F.C.  The knowledge of what the fans expect and what they have been through the past few years is there for McClaren.  He knows the fans are among the most passionate in England and he knows how to harness that passion into an incredible home support.  During his time with the English National team McClaren spent time with Newcastle both scouting and getting to know the set up.  He said that he had meetings with both Sam Allardyce and Alen Pardew during their time managing at the club.  This experience will serve him well during the times in the season that results are difficult to come by.  McClaren will not be caught by surprise the level of criticism that he will face when the squad loses a couple of matches.

3.  Spin on the coach over manager roll

By now everyone knows that the coaches do not handle the transfers within this club.  McClaren is unique in that he will sit on the board, but how much influence he will be granted is unclear.  Despite many potential coaching candidates that were against this policy, McClaren at least on the surface appears to accept the role.  If the manager is not constantly seen complaining to the media about money not being spent and “his” players not being brought in it can only be a good thing.  When a manager is in the news begging to upgrade a position, that he has no power to upgrade, this will have an adverse effect on the incumbent player.  That player may feel degraded in and loss confidence in his ability.  McClaren said that him being able to focus on selecting the correct 11 and building a squad are his strengths.  After the end of season chemistry issues that Newcastle suffered, this approach might be needed.  Have others focus on transfers and let your coach lead the players that are already on the roster.  Building a chemistry and a sense of working together is just as important as the transfers being brought in.  The role of coach and general manager works in American sports, why can’t it work in the Premier League?

Early off-season interviews all always easy to say the correct thing, so this was expected.  How McClaren responds when the fans turn on his after a bad result will be the true test to how long he will last at the club.  For now I’m on board with the direction Newcastle United seem to be headed.  Now all I need is Charlie Austin to be signed and I’ll be ready for the season.

More from Newcastle Toons