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McClaren´s Simple Solution To Newcastle´s Current Problems

9:11 am, Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016 by Dr. Ed Harrison · 50 Comments

Newcastle are simply a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide side in that we look a very good team at home and a terrible team away from home.

We play some very good football at home and although we find it difficult to score goals, the home crowd is an enormous advantage to the side and the fans have been exceptional this season in supporting our lads.

steve mcclaren simon smith

Steve McClaren and Simon Smith in La Manga last week

We have picked up four of our six wins at home and have picked up 17 of our 24 points from the 13 home games and home form could still save us if we can win most of our six remaining home games.

Steve McClaren has put it in very simple terms in the Chronicle today what we need to do to survive.

Continue with our good form at home but reproduce that form on the road through the end of the season.

That would do it.

This is what McClaren told the Chronicle today:

“We just talked about it. It’s quite simple, in the last 12 games we have collected 14 points, in six of those games at home we have collected 11 points.”

“People have seen that and we have been delighted with the attitude and the kind of football we are playing at home.”

“The problem has been in away games and dealing with setbacks and making sure we go into games and score the first goal. We haven’t done that.”

“The last six games away from home we have won just once.” “So we have talked about maintaining our home form and improving away.”

“We have to maintain that home form – and the crowd are helping us do that enormously.“ “We just have to maintain our home form and somehow improve our away form.”

“The new boys have been talking about the atmosphere and how fantastic it is.” “It’s an actual joy to play at home, so we have to get that enjoyment playing away from home too.”

“We have been disappointing, especially Everton and Chelsea.” “Once we have had a setback we haven’t recovered from that. We have to deal with that.”

Those are good words from the Newcastle manager.

The acid test for Newcastle will come at Stoke a week tomorrow and the Britannia Stadium has never been an easy place for us to pick up points.

But time is running out and we must pick something up there and it would help if we put in a good performance too – but that´s the priority.

We need points first of all – however we can get them.

And then against Bournemouth at home, we just have to win that game against a relegation rival.

It´s easy to say but harder to achieve – but that´s what we need to do this season to survive – keep up the good home form and reproduce that in away games.

Comments welcome.

Tags: Coaching · Newcastle News · Premier League · Press

50 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Lindisfarne // Feb 23, 2016 at 9:16 AM

    The players should all where black hoods from the moment they leave their front doors and step on the pitch, that will remedy the home / away discrepancy.

  • 2 jayphoto // Feb 23, 2016 at 9:18 AM

    Surely he see’s the common denominator is how they set up away from home compared to at home?? Much deeper for one. Player for player we are stronger at least on paper than a lot of sides and really we should go out to attack (as defence is really not our strong point) most games.
    Stoke are decent, but nothing special. Really we should roll up there and go for the throat from the off. We played them off the park at st james’ and but for a worldie of a game by their octopus like keeper we’d have won 3 or 4 -0.
    Problem is we’ll sit deep.

  • 3 Lindisfarne // Feb 23, 2016 at 9:19 AM

    Sorry to repeat myself (haha) but if Schtevie thinks we can score our way out of trouble and ignore the gaping hole in defence, we will be relegated down to his ability level.

  • 4 jayphoto // Feb 23, 2016 at 9:21 AM

    For me he needs to drop sissoko as hes too inconsistent.
    Move Townesend to the right, play Aarons left. Shelvey and probably tiote (saivet when he gets PL adapted) in the middle.
    Probably Doumbia up front as Mitro is out and Doumbia is probably fitter than Cisse.

  • 5 Lindisfarne // Feb 23, 2016 at 9:24 AM


    I am not advocating that we sit deep, but equally all out attack will surely produce the same result. Simply by being properly organised, limiting the space available to the opposition particularly in the central channel, will provide a greater opportunity to compete more evenly with any opposition. When we have fallen apart teams have waltzed straight through our midfield and defence.

  • 6 Lindisfarne // Feb 23, 2016 at 9:34 AM

    IMO I would love to play Aarons and Townsend on both wings but away from home I think we need to revert to 4 midfielders across the middle. In 2010/11 the most consistently used players were Guitierrez, Nolan, Tiote, Barton which solidified our defence and gave the team confidence to attack.

  • 7 lochinvar // Feb 23, 2016 at 9:41 AM

    Have a look at this clip ( Man Ure free kick v Shrewsbury )

    and tell me why Tiotes goal was disallowed ?

    Suggest we also ask ( tell ) officials in advance that we are going to do this in the knowledge that any goal will then be allowed – the officials have now set the precedent

    Or is one rule for some and one for others ?

  • 8 AncientC // Feb 23, 2016 at 9:41 AM

    Stoke are heavily overrated in my opinion.

    Stoke’s home form is similar to their away form.
    Stoke at home:
    Won 5. Drawn 2. Lost 5.
    Stoke away:
    Won 5. Drawn 4. Lost 5.

    Absolutely no reason we should not be going there gung-ho and getting a result.

  • 9 Jib // Feb 23, 2016 at 9:42 AM

    We seem to fall between 2 stools when we play away from home.
    It’s as if the coaches pride won’t let the team be set up to just garner a point.
    This is where MacClaren differs from all the other Brit managers in the prem.
    If we had set up on the road to just try and nick a point every game (as we did so well at Old Trafford ) and succeeded , we would now be 10 points better off on 34, one above Chelsea.

  • 10 jayphoto // Feb 23, 2016 at 9:43 AM

    @lindisfarne – who would you go for yourself?
    For me, a problem McClaren has had is that certain players are massively inconsistent. In some games they look like world class players, in others pub players. Because of the level of ability and the fact that they demolish teams every 4 or 5 games ago they’re almost undroppable because of the good times, but during the bad performances they just don’t turn up and it’s like we’re down to 9 men. (8 if Dummetts at left back)
    Sissoko away from home is verging on pointless. Wijnaldum aswell.

  • 11 Thump // Feb 23, 2016 at 9:54 AM

    @lochinvar: I said it at the time and I’ll say it again: if the linesman had raised his flag during play, I would have been annoyed, but I’d have taken it on the chin. Instead he waited after play had ceased, raised his flag, and then disallowed it.

    Either way, the quality of refereeing in this country has been bordering on atrocious for years. Surely somebody at the FA should be looking at these kinds of decisions and thinking “consistency might be important”?

  • 12 Jib // Feb 23, 2016 at 9:56 AM

    I hold no brief for Man U
    I am merely trying to explain the officials thinking so please don’t jump on me or get abusive.
    Being in an offside position is not an offence in itself; at the moment the ball touches, or is played by, the player’s team, the player must also be “actively involved in the play” in the opinion of the referee, in order for an offence to occur.”
    The 3 Man United players retired at speed from the action area in order to not be actively involved .
    In Tiotes case his team-mates were statuesque and made no attempt to get of the way.
    I think the obscuring of the goalies view (although it probably occurred ) is a red herring in both cases.

  • 13 kuqigoals // Feb 23, 2016 at 9:57 AM

    Forgive me for being overly optimistic but I reckon we only need to get to 35 points (3 wins 2 draws) to be safe this season. Looking at the other teams’ fixtures, I can’t see them picking up loads of points: (a) Norwich will draw too many and will only pick up about 8-10 more points (32-34 points overall) (b) Swansea still have to play Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea, Leics, Liv, West Ham, City and won’t get much from those so probably around 33-35 points overall (c) Mackems will probably get enough to be safe but, unfortunately, a lot will depend on the derby and we know how that always turns out (d) Villa are obviously dead and buried. Hope springs eternal!

  • 14 beermonkey // Feb 23, 2016 at 10:05 AM


    given the fact we had a tough start the season
    i dont think there would have been any shame in setting up more defence minded away from home as pulis and pards have proved you will also pick up the odd 3 points as well

    also while manager and players got used to each other


    hows life in glamour model heaven

    like you say the likes of colo sissoko janmatt even gini all know there undroppable and thats part of the problem
    not sure if stoke are that pacy but playing dejong in the gini roll and aarons and townsend on the wings i think we would get more work rate and less chance of them going missing
    i dont wanna see aarons at left back again

  • 15 jayphoto // Feb 23, 2016 at 10:05 AM

    problem with it all is it’s slightly open and let to the referees interpretation! This is where the inconsistencies come in!
    I think Tiotes goal against Man City should have stood, but his one against west brom was rightly disallowed as foster was clearly blocked.

  • 16 Lindisfarne // Feb 23, 2016 at 10:06 AM

    Its difficult to know who is going to be fit for the Stoke game and my choice is only because we are in such a difficult position. No team has ever played their way out of relegation, but defended solidly and gave themselves more of an opportunity to nick wins. There are lots of players that should fit into certain roles but through necessity or bad coaching have not developed, ie. Sissoko and when things are not going well, I think Gini tries to do too much and fails at everything.

    From the players I think that will be available against Stoke I would go with:

    If Tiote was fit I would play him instead of Anita. Sissoko should be playing there instead as a box to box midfielder, or as a forward. But he will probably be played on the wing with Saviet inside.
    The LB needs to be quick and physical to combat Shaqui, to put him off his stride.
    The two forwards can take it in turns to lead the line and come back to make a 5 man midfield.

  • 17 John Akomfrah // Feb 23, 2016 at 10:54 AM

    anita at full back and tiote in centre for anita

  • 18 martoon // Feb 23, 2016 at 10:55 AM

    Lindisfarne @15 – Controversial selection – I really can’t see McClaren dropping Townsend & Sissoko though.

  • 19 Rotonda heights // Feb 23, 2016 at 10:59 AM

    For me a pitch is a pitch is a pitch.

    Why the need to change tactics and go all negative away from home baffles me. It’s 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw, so setting up to hold on for 90+ mins for 1 point makes no sense whatsoever. But hey look who we’re talking about here.

    AP used to jokingly say we always played on the front foot, but we are just as defensive away from home with SM as we ever were.

    I understand that the home team may be more familiar with their ground but I really can’t even see that as an excuse to park the bus and hope for the best when you are as likely to concede in the first 10 as the last 10 mins.


    That should be Carr’s resignation note.

  • 20 Dime Bar // Feb 23, 2016 at 11:22 AM

    It is simple Steve yeah, get that bunch of misfits to start winning away from home!

  • 21 Blackley and Brownlie // Feb 23, 2016 at 11:22 AM

    How can someone obscuring the goalie’s view be a red herring? Surely that is actively involved in play?

  • 22 beermonkey // Feb 23, 2016 at 11:26 AM


    i dont think you have to park the bus away to be a little more defensive

    although i think one of our biggest problems is work rate look at the effort teams like leicster spurs the effort they put in closing down players and willingness to do that side of things
    how often do we just stand off players

  • 23 Lindisfarne // Feb 23, 2016 at 11:26 AM

    Again, I am trying to highlight the positive alternatives we have whilst I also understand their are difficulties with my selection. Players should not be undropable, the squad consists of 25 players and they all should be able to play a match at any given time (discounting injuries). I do not go along with that we should stick with our best 11 players as they should all be our best and then less likely to suffer injuries and be able to play according to the opposition.

    Home advantage has always existed, the crowd become the twelfth man, but away teams should also be able to utilise their own abilities to control the game and create nervousness in the crowd which also transfers on to the pitch. Playing defensively is not anti-football if its winning football, a match is a match is a match as they say!

    Managers will always try to translate playing stats to suit their own agenda, “playing on the front foot” can be subtly derived from the number of passes and the potential of being able to attack despite the incomplete ratio or location on the pitch. “Controlling the ball / game / the opposition” derived from possession that does not take into account location on the pitch, direction of play and the amount of play taking place in the attacking third. It is ironical and fools no one, other than the players who need their egos massaging.

  • 24 Rotonda heights // Feb 23, 2016 at 11:31 AM


    again i think that’s another reason carr has to go. for someone who is meant to vet incoming players’ character, attitude, work rate and commitment, what on earth does he see in thauvin as just one example.

  • 25 Lindisfarne // Feb 23, 2016 at 11:37 AM

    We have had consistently trouble with scoring and stopping goals; we buy more midfielders and when it all goes pear shaped the midfield falls apart. To have an organised team with two ranks of players, creating a solid defence is not ‘Parking the Bus’ but it does prevent being ripped apart. Leicester can not be accused of being defensive, their forwards catch the eye but they would not be able to if their defence was not very well organised. The modern game of football has moved on from the days of KK mark I, the same principles can be used but also need adapting to an era where all players are quick, strong and qualities that are more evenly matched.

  • 26 beermonkey // Feb 23, 2016 at 11:38 AM


    we do have a team of sherkers
    but i am sure some of it is due to the fact they know they wont be dropped

    lets take sissoko he knows he will start if fit
    but if mclaren drops him in favour of aarons and townsend and pulled him aside told him showed him and tell him whats expected home and away how do you think he will play coming off the bench and when we start him again
    with the euros around the corner i bet that will kick his arse into gear

  • 27 Rotonda heights // Feb 23, 2016 at 11:43 AM


    If we could bottle that first 25 mins against WHU at home and take it on the road we’d be laughing.

    I just don’t see why we become so, so defensive away from home. Results over a long time show it clearly doesn’t work, so why do we persist with that approach.

  • 28 Lindisfarne // Feb 23, 2016 at 11:57 AM

    Rotonda heights

    It is great seeing Sissoko and Gini bombing forward, driving into the oppositions box, but all to often there is no end result and away from home a big gap appears that that gets galloped through knocking the defence over like skittles. In the most part due to slow, average defenders not moving further up the pitch for fear of the ball over the top, only to be carved open by the space they create in front of them.

  • 29 Lindisfarne // Feb 23, 2016 at 12:08 PM

    The game against Watford was the most disappointing because in the most part we were playing to the strengths of the players on the pitch, except Aarons. If Mitrovic could have scored, the result could quite easily have been the other way around and through continued use the formation would have gained more success. However, as always the Head Coach will go back to trying to fit the players into a system of play that ultimately fails because of lapses of concentration and unwillingness to fulfill the role assigned.

  • 30 terencelim // Feb 23, 2016 at 12:20 PM

    In conclusion. Ashley and Ashley ass lickers OUT.

  • 31 Jib // Feb 23, 2016 at 12:23 PM

    The ref at Shrewsbury was relying on his assistant on the touchline to look for offsides .

    He saw 3 Man U players striving like hell to get back onside and away from the goalie.

    From his line of sight he had no idea they were blocking the goalies view.
    In Tiotes case it was one player clearly for all to see blocking off the goalie.

    I’m sure it had been planned at Carrington by the Man U coaches .

    LvG burst out laughing and did a high 5 with one of his coaches which gave the impression that a cunning plan had worked.

  • 32 Thump // Feb 23, 2016 at 12:37 PM

    @Jib: In all fairness, if Mitro wasn’t anywhere near the keeper, there was no saving that shot. The late curve put it way out of the keepers reach.

  • 33 Thump // Feb 23, 2016 at 12:37 PM

    Also, it was planned. LvG and Mata said afterwards that they asked permission from the ref to see if it was allowed or not. Go figure.

  • 34 Tsunki // Feb 23, 2016 at 12:42 PM

    “Aserejé, ja deje tejebe tude jebere
    sebiunouba majabi an de bugui an de buididipí…”

    Darryl at least try – have you no rhythm man?

  • 35 John Akomfrah // Feb 23, 2016 at 12:47 PM

    league refs and pl refs are miles apart some are crap

  • 36 Tsunki // Feb 23, 2016 at 12:49 PM

    I see that Carr is still being singled out for the decline of the Romans Empire and fall of the Soviet union amongst other things but I doubt his replacement would fare any better given the remit he has been handed.

    Sure, he probably shuffles through the nufc corridors in his underpants at 3 am with a handful of dry roasted peanuts looking for an imaginary cat, but get a young whizz kid whoppers napper in and the job would be the same with largely the same results. Only without the laundry bill and the smell of Jeyes fluid.

  • 37 Tsunki // Feb 23, 2016 at 12:51 PM

    You know this time autocorrect may have done something good – I like the sound of a Whopper Snapper! Can we get one?

  • 38 firebug666 // Feb 23, 2016 at 12:58 PM

    NEIL Swarbrick from Lancashire is the man put in charge of Stoke’s home game with Newcastle tomorrow week.

    He was last at the Britannia for the last Wednesday game – against Norwich on January 21 – when he sent off Gary O’Neil for his ridiculous touchline challenge on Ibrahim Afellay after barely half-an-hour of his side’s 3-1 defeat.

    He’s usually a good omen for Stoke at the Britannia after overseeing a couple of 1-0 wins against Hull in the past couple of years and the `Charlie Adam’ 2-1 victory over Manchester United a couple of Februarys ago.

    His only previous Newcastle fixture this term was their 2-1 home win over West Ham on January 16.

  • 39 Tsunki // Feb 23, 2016 at 1:01 PM

    As for Carr having to vet attitude etc that’s a difficult one in the universe of entitlement young football players live in. I think for example, the Thauvin deal was mapped out in a convoluted plot of intrigue involving players moving around a long while back. He may well have had the naive ambition worn off him by a year or two of huge pay packets and being feted by different clubs. Let’s face it, footballers are not exactly mature or realistic, or even slightly philosophical. Well most aren’t I would imagine. Plus he turned out to be gash, which is always a deal breaker in these circumstances 🙂

  • 40 Tsunki // Feb 23, 2016 at 1:03 PM

    I think Swarbrick is pretty harmless tbf

  • 41 Tsunki // Feb 23, 2016 at 1:07 PM

    I still maintain with so much time to go before Stoke we have no idea who will be standing upright the morning of kick off. Best hold back on the formations I think. Anita could be LB right up until the night before, then understudy for an injured Wijnaldum, you just don’t know.

  • 42 Tsunki // Feb 23, 2016 at 1:08 PM

    Btw will doumbia be fit enough to start?

  • 43 Lindisfarne // Feb 23, 2016 at 1:16 PM

    You would hope that after 18 days a non-injured player would be able to get their fitness level up to peak condition, Doumbia is not exactly in the category of HBA.

  • 44 martoon // Feb 23, 2016 at 1:18 PM

    I’ve just looked at the fixtures – I see Stoke are playing Villa on Saturday. They must be rubbing their hands thinking 6 easy points here. With a bit of luck they will beat Villa and be a bit over confident when they face us – or am I clutching at straws? 🙂

  • 45 MadisonToon // Feb 23, 2016 at 1:22 PM

    Doumbia may be fit enough to start, but should he? I still don’t know too much about him and haven’t seen any of the minutes that he’s played in the NUFC shirt since his move. Do people think he’s a better option than Perez?

  • 46 Moonraker15 // Feb 23, 2016 at 1:22 PM

    These would be “good words” from the manager if we were 3 weeks into the season ! If it’s taken him and the coaching team 6 months to reach this conclusion then they are wholly incompetent. The more I hear from this guy the more I think he is taking us down and we’ll be probably the best squad ever relegated, even though we have serious weaknesses. He has no idea of how to set up a team to defend as demonstrated by the criminal act of playing Aarons at lb against Chelsea, whilst keeping Colback on the bench! We are between a rock and a hard thing cos if we go down he will be kept on to try to get us back up and if we stay up he’ll get the plaudits for saving us from his own mess! Omg I hate this fckin regime!

  • 47 MadisonToon // Feb 23, 2016 at 1:24 PM

    Martoon –

    That would be great. You might be clutching at straws, but I’d love to think they’ll come in expecting an easy match. We would still have to show up, but I do think this is a match ripe for the picking – if we are going to get 3 points away from home, then at Stoke is a pretty prime place to get them.

  • 48 Moonraker15 // Feb 23, 2016 at 1:32 PM

    Doumbia has to start against Stoke! What I’ve seen of him he is quick when fit and our only hope is goal(s) on the break as Stoke have a strong midfield and will dominate possession!

  • 49 Rotonda heights // Feb 23, 2016 at 1:36 PM


    i wonder what leicester’s scouts see that carr clearly doesn’t. They’ve hardly spent fortunes have they that carr has supposedly been denied.

  • 50 Moonraker15 // Feb 23, 2016 at 7:53 PM

    My advice for McClaren: just maintain silence until we’ve got at least 3 more wins in the bag, then the fans will give you support, At the moment every time he opens his mouth he says something stupid. Now I don’t mind winners talking bull but losers really piss me off and at the moment McClaren, you are a loser!

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