Newcastle will play Norwegian club Lillestrom SK this afternoon after arriving in La Manga, Spain last Tuesday and getting through some good warm weather training this week in an effort to get the squad fitter, improve the team spirit and today give some of our players much needed game time.
And then we suppose the squad will jet back to Newcastle tomorrow and start preparing for our next game – which is at Stoke City a week on Wednesday.
Steve McClaren with his players in La Manga
Steve McClaren has again tried to explain the Jekyll and Hide nature of his side whe one day we look like a top six side and in the very next game we look like we will most certainly be relegated.
A good case in point are the last two games when we looked really good in beating West Brom 1-0 at home and then we fell apart at Chelsea and were 3-0 down in just 17 minutes and too many of our players had already given up.
This is what Steve has said in the Chronicle today:
“It’s about focus. That’s the key word.” “When this team is focused and really truly focused, when they have got their game heads on, we are a good team that can serve up good performances.”
“Like the West Brom game.” “If we aren’t focused and we get disrupted by certain things or our routine is upset, or this or that isn’t right.”
“And we aren’t actually focused come kick off time, then we are vulnerable.” “That has been the message to the players.”
“When the team are focused and have that intensity in preparation before games, the game takes care of itself.”
So the new word – the new mantra if you like for our lads is to be focused – which we certainly were not against Chelsea in what was a disturbing display from the Newcastle side – and on the day we looked completely disorganized.
One player who could be really important for us during the run-in is on-loan striker Seydou Doumbia, who will get some much needed minutes this afternoon.
Other players coming back who may see some game time are Vurnon Anita, Jack Colback and Steven Taylor who looked all at sea against Chelsea.
But it was also obvious that Steven was forced to return before he was really ready, because of the injury to Chancel Mbemba.