I didn’t watch it on Wednesday. I didn’t watch the highlights. I’m not as angry as most of you. It was United away, under McClaren, so it was a defeat. It’s literally a waste of everyone’s time. 1,600 went to Stoke on a Wednesday night. Everyone knows we’d get beat. 18 days in the making Wednesday was. It’s getting too much for many.
This is worse than 2009. It’s worse than the dark days of John Carver’s reign last year. It’s worse because there is no end in sight. You know what I’m going to say. That Lee Charnley and Graeme Carr’s fate most likely rests with the future of Steve McClaren. So they won’t sack him, even if he keeps us up. If we go down, they’ll probably go anyway – just with pay outs. Is it in the best interest, financially, of everyone on the ‘football board (apart from Moncur) for Newcastle United to be relegated? It’s a strange question to ask. I don’t have an answer but an outsider looking if someone told you the club was ‘trying to get relegated’ it will have made more sense than the statement than Newcastle United ‘try and win away games under Steve McClaren.’
United’s last seven away games saw defeats at West Brom, Arsenal, Watford, Watford, Everton, Chelsea, Stoke. Goals scored: 1. Goals against: 14. With a record like that United should just piss out of the league and come back when they’re willing to take it seriously. One goal in seven games? A waste of everyone’s time. It’s bad for the competition. Is this the sum of the efforts of a back room staff, a playing squad and a manager. Is this the BEST they can do. The absolute pinnacle of their ability. The same side that won at a Spurs side favourite for the title? A Spurs side only other title favourites Leicester City have beaten at home? What is going on?
I’m going to re-iterate something I’ve said a few times in these previews and regularly on the podcast I do. Newcastle United have an issue away from home. Last season only QPR were a worse away side than us away from home. They are literally the worst run club in the top two leagues. So to address this problem, away from home, Chanrley and Carr brought in Steve McClaren, who’s away form at the highest level with Wolfsburg, England, Forest and Middelsborough was a joke. I will repeat the questions I’ve previously asked. Was Lee Charnley aware that the club he leads was the second worst away side in the Premier League last season? If so was how was Steve McClaren was the answer to this problem? Why was Steve McClaren the only man interviewed for the Newcastle United job made vacant from 30.12.14? Why was he still given the job after being sacked by Derby County for taking them from the top of the Championship to outside of the play off places in just 3 months? Why did the club risk relegation waiting specifically for Steve McClaren? What was it that McClaren offered Newcastle United over all other managers out there looking for work? What was it the club saw in Steve McClaren that no other manager, in or out of employment at the time, could offer? Finally, why is Steve McClaren still in a job after accruing 24 points from 27 games despite being backed financially in one season more than any other Newcastle United manager in history?
Part of the answer to that question is our home form. Since defeat to Leicester in November we have lost one of seven home games, and that was to Everton in the 93rd minute. The home performances have been largely good since the start of December. We still don’t score enough, but we create chances. NUFC at home are a different proposition to the embarrassment they serve up away from home. More of the same needed. I think even if we beat an inform Bournemouth on Saturday we’ll still be relegated. I’m happy to be proved wrong. Fail to win and lose on Saturday, then it’s finished. If McLaren should lose this game then there is no possible way he will be able to continue in his role, despite everything written above. A draw isn’t enough. Sunderland head to a Southampton side who’ve lost twice in a week. Norwich play Swansea. I back Sunderland and Norwich to pick up at least a point this weekend, possibly more.
The game after Bournemouth is the derby. That’s such a car crash waiting to happen I don’t want to think about it, for a number of reasons. This game is simply a must win. It’s Bournemouth (capacity 11,500) at home. I love Bournemouth this season. They’re everything we’re not. They head into a game at St James’ Park, in front of 50,000 and an expensively assembled squad – as favourites. That’s not right.
Bournemouth won their derby 2 0 this week. They’ll be sky high. They play with confidence and like to attack. Hopefully we’ll be able to exploit this. This season they’ve won at West Ham, Chelsea, West Brom and Palace. Not bad, but it is there home form that sees them sitting 8 points above us in the league. United supposedly have Cisse, Colo & Townsend to come back into the team. All need to start. I’ve no idea what Tiote is. Again. Perez and Aarons need to feature more. The best thing I can say about the weekend is it’s a 3PM Kick off, on a Saturday at home. I get the feeling there’ll be plenty more of those next season.
Shlevey and Colback to pick up bookings, earning them a two match ban which keep them out of the home derby.
2-1 United – as we just have to.
ALEX HURST – Follow Alex on @tfalex1892
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