The summer seemed bright for Newcastle United. The supporters were given hope for the 2015/16 season, with a new, experienced manager being appointed, and several big money signings being made. The relegation battle at the end of the previous season was a distant memory, and it looked like a fresh start was on the cards for the Toon.
Fast forward a few weeks and the story is completely different. The first games of the season have been a dreadful start for Newcastle, who have only managed to get 2 points from their first 6 matches. There are many reasons why they are not performing, and the following are, in my opinion, the main ones.
1. Players getting used to each other’s style of play
Even though Newcastle brought in some good quality players in the summer, it can take a while for them to gel into a new team, and into a new country as well. There is an initial language barrier for them, and they have to get used to living in a different way. Also, the Premier League is difficult to become accustomed to, as it is such a faster pace to many other leagues in Europe.
The teams performance last season is bound to have knocked the confidence of many of the existing players, and also the harsh way that well-liked players were given their matching orders at the end of last season (such as Jonas Gutierrez and Ryan Taylor) inevitably would have shaken them up a bit. It proved that no one was safe, which may have unnerved them during the summer transfer window that they could be next to leave. After Saturdays defeat at Watford Steve McClaren admitted that the team “lack belief”, so it is imperative that this is an area they now concentrate on improving.
3. Behind the scenes
Chairman Mike Ashley is far from being one of the most well liked men in football – the supporters have not been behind him for many seasons now, as the changes he has made to the club seem to be causing more harm than good. So it is no surprise that fans, and very likely the players to, need a chance to accept Steve McClaren into the Toon, and to adjust to his managerial style. Many of the long standing players have had to deal with numerous managers coming and going, so they could be forgiven for needing time to adapt to the direction in which the club is now heading. There is a lot of pressure on McClaren himself to succeed at the club, and Ashley is not the most forgiving of chairman, so the shaky start to the season will no doubt have already made McClaren fearful for his job.
4. Lack of effortOne of the main problems with Newcastle United for many years now always seems to be that they give in to easily when they are losing a game. On odd occasions they have fought back to gain points (the coming back from 4-0 down against Arsenal to gain a draw several seasons ago as the main example), but more often than not they do tend to throw in the towel too quickly. The match against West Ham United last Monday night displayed this; when they went 2-0 down suddenly they seemed to give up playing altogether, with any chances of winning becoming non-existent. This was also the case on Saturday, when they yet again lost 2-1 at home to Watford. They have now only managed to score 3 goals in their first six games of the season, which mirrors their start to last season (which ended in a relegation battle, something the supporters and team are all bound to want to avoid being in again).
It is still early days in the season, so Newcastle United have time to redeem themselves, however fans can only be forgiving for a certain amount of time, and if things don’t turn around quickly at Newcastle then Steve McClaren could soon become the latest victim of the Toon Army’s backlash.