It was difficult to know what to expect today from a Newcastle side that hadn’t played together before today.
Steve McClaren made a brave decision before the game to start both Coloccini and Mbemba in the heart of the defense, and it paid off, and the two showed they could form a very good partnership – once they have played a few more games together.
Chancel Mbemba looked excellent on his debut. and so did the sublime Gini Wijnaldum.
Steve McClaren on the touchline today
Both players did really well, given that had very little play in pre-season – Colo had none – and Mbemba played about 30 minutes last Saturday against Borussia Monchengladbach.
But we looked weak against high centers coming in – which is how Southampton got both their goals.
But it’s also the job of the full-backs (and others) to stop those crosses coming in and both were from the right win – so that’s an area the side can improve on.
This is what Steve McClaren said after the game:
“I didn’t quite know what to expect because it’s been a short pre-season,” “The only really decent game was Borussia Monchengladbach last week, and even that was a nice, gentle pace.
“Southampton looked like they’d played more competitive games than us, which they have because of the Europa League, but while I didn’t really know what to expect from us, I’m absolutely delighted with what I saw.
“For 75 minutes, the team were excellent. We didn’t play smart after that, but fatigue played a part. The game had everything.” “Jack Colback made a great block to get us the point.”
“Have we learned anything? We’ve learned so much. Can we get better? Most definitely.” “Once we get up to our fitness levels as the weeks go on, this is certainly something to build on.” “Not just the team – the squad as well.”
“I don’t like conceding goals like that.” “Pelle was always a danger, and it was a terrific header from him, but we didn’t do enough to stop the cross or mark in the box to put him off.”
“The second goal was probably even more disappointing than the first. It’s given us something to work on, but then we always thought there would be.”
We were surprised Newcastle were so good, but some of the lads did tire towards the end of the game, and if any side was going to win it late – it was Southampton.
But this was so much better than the tripe served up last season by John Carver and company – this was a different class completely.
And as we suspected Steve McClaren will be able to get the best out of a number of Newcastle’s players – like Coloccini and Vurnon Anita to name two.
Cheick Tiote could also have a good season under Steve McClaren, who knows him well from their two seasons together at FC Twente.
And after Vurnon Anita was stretchered off in the second half and replaced by Cheick, Steve McClaren had good news on the Dutchman:
“Vurnon is OK and he’s walking around normally. We will assess it this week.”
Southampton should do well again this season, although they do have the Europa League and with all the game they will have to play that could be difficult for them.
Steve McClaren is said to have had a long meeting with owner Mike Ashley before the game – so hopefully we will now have the three players lined up to sign before September 1st.
All we needed today to make it perfect was a win, but we just couldn’t hold out – but those 90 minutes will help a lot of our players, and we will be a lot more match fit at Swansea next Saturday.That’s another tough game for us, but we did manage a 2-2 draw there last season.