The first half of the season has certainly been a rollercoaster ride for Newcastle United, who spent the majority of the 5 months in the bottom three, with only 17 points gained. There is still a long way to go until the end of the season, but manager Steve McClaren and the Newcastle board are going to have to make some improvements to the team in January if they want to avoid relegation.
1) Strengthening the Team
It is imperative that new players are brought into the club in the January transfer market, especially as a number of key players have been side-lined this season due to injury. In the summer they did not hold back with spending, and this will need to continue if they want to fight their way up the table. Rumours have already started about possible signings, with 22 year old midfielder George Thorne, who currently plays for Derby County and also Bordeaux winger Henri Saivet being some of first names to be mentioned.
Confidence at the club does seem to be low, and has been for a long while, as players and supporters have had to deal with various management changes and structure to the style of play at the club, and the poor results both last season and this have put a severe dampener on the team. It is important that McClaren improves the morale at the club, as if not he may end up in a similar position to that of Jose Mourinho and Louis Van Gaal who have both experienced losing the support of their players this season.
So far this season, Newcastle’s best displays appear to be against the Premier League’s ‘big boys’, whereas when faced with the teams in the bottom half of the league their performance has been more than just below par. Improvement is definitely needed on the ball, as it does seem to be that whenever Newcastle have more possession, which tends to happen against the lesser teams, they don’t hold the ball as well as when they are playing the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea, where Newcastle’s counter attacking has definitely shown an improvement on last season. This lack of confidence with the ball needs to improve in order to get some much needed points over the other teams towards the bottom of the table.
It will be interesting to see how Newcastle try to turn things around in the second half of the season. Supporters will certainly not want to endure another relegation battle, so it is imperative that the team start to improve and gain some valuable points. There is not that much difference in points currently in the bottom half of the table, so a couple of wins would actually push Newcastle up quite high out of the bottom three. The faster this improvement happens, the more confidence and excitement this will create within the club.