McClaren – Players Still 20% Short Of Being Fully Match Fit

One of the positive thing about the performance at Manchester United on Saturday was that we defended superbly for maybe the first time this season, and it was our first clean sheet and something to build on.

But Steve McClaren also knows that the players are still not as sharp as they need to be and he thinks we will see another additional 20% from the lads.

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Steven Taylor – had a very good game for Newcastle on Saturday

Steve McClaren talked about some of the players who played really well at the back for Newcastle on Saturday:

“I thought along with Steven Taylor, Coloccini was excellent. I also thought Chancel Mbemba was superb.” “He’s not a right-back, but he did a gallant job there.”

“That back four – five with Tim Krul behind – is going to be important for us.” “You don’t come to Old Trafford and get a result if you don’t defend well, and that’s what we did.”

“We conceded two goals against Southampton and two more against Swansea, albeit with ten men, so it was important to keep a clean sheet.”

“I thought we were excellent, and that performance is a real platform.” “You look at our players and think they’re still 20% or so down on where they’ll eventually be.”

“I look around our squad and think, ‘Well he could be sharper, and he could be sharper’.” “It was a short pre-season and an early start, and that’s what you’re going to get.”

The players are still not match fit, and we were surprised and pleased with the sterling way in which Steven Taylor went about the job – and he had an excellent game for us.

But McClaren’s also been clear about what it takes for Steven Taylor to become an important player for us this season – he needs to stay fit.

Over the last  six years Steven has had a number of serious and long term injuries, and on January 1st he ruptured his Achilles and was out for the rest of last season.

If Steven can keep playing near his best form – which he did on Saturday – he can again become a big player for the Magpies.

But we must keep him fit.

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