Sunday 23 October 2016

McClaren: A win can turn our season

Steve McClaren
Steve McClaren

Under-pressure Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren is confident a single win would turn around a season which is threatening to spiral out of control.

The 54-year-old saw his fledgling reign at St James' Park suffer another body blow on Wednesday when Sky Bet Championship side Sheffield Wednesday dumped the Magpies out of the League Cup.

McClaren insisted from day one that his masterplan for success on Tyneside would take time to implement, but fans battered into submission by years of under-achievement and perhaps worse, a perceived lack of ambition, are rapidly losing patience with a project which looks increasingly flawed.

With resurgent Chelsea heading for St James' tomorrow evening ahead of a trip to current Premier League leaders Manchester City, the chorus of disapproval could yet grow in volume, although McClaren is adamant that victory over Jose Mourinho's men would dramatically change the febrile atmosphere threatening to engulf the club.

He said: "Do we fear it? Do we say we don't want to play in that? We have got to. We have got to get people ready for Saturday, ready to fight, and one result turns it around. You have got to say and you have got to believe - which I do - that could be Saturday."

A win over Chelsea may well have the desired effect, and the Blues have lost on each of their last three visits to Tyneside. However, those Newcastle teams, whatever their failings, could score goals; this one, at least at the moment, cannot, and worryingly, it cannot defend either.

Fans have directed their anger in recent years at owner Mike Ashley and a recruitment policy based on hunting out bargains from basements in which few other clubs were shopping.

But this summer, Ashley sanctioned significant investment to the tune of more than £52million, and it is the way in which that money has been spent by managing director Lee Charnley which is now coming under scrutiny with Chancel Mbemba, Georginio Wijnaldum, Florian Thauvin and Aleksandar Mitrovic yet to justify the outlay.

McClaren will have Mitrovic back from his three-game ban and will hope his presence will prove one of the missing ingredients in a squad already riven by injury and sickness just weeks into the campaign. The former England boss said: "We have got to take a roll call and have a look at things."

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