Newcastle were 3-0 down after just 17 minutes in the game at Stamford Bridge on February 13th this year in what was a huge game for us, after we had just registered our first win in a long time against West Brom – and we even played well in getting the 1-0 home win.
At half time in the Arsenal game in February 2011 five years ago – shortly after Alan Pardew joined the club we had a similar situation and were 4-0 down at half time.
We don´t know exactly what happened at half time in that game, but we came roaring back and scored four goals in the last 24 minutes to get that famous 4-4 draw – the greatest ever comeback in Premier League history.
Winners – Steven Gerrard and Rafa Benitez
And one of the greatest and most emotional games we have ever watched not involving Newcastle – was the Champions League final back in May, 2005 in Istanbul when Liverpool found themselves 3-0 down at half time against AC Milan.
The game looked all over – well to most people and certainly to the English TV commentators who talked about ¨damage limitation” at half time..
But what happened was the Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez changed the Liverpool formation and brought on former Newcastle player Dietmar (Didi) Hamann in defensive midfield – and the rest is history.
Liverpool went on led by a great second half display from captain Steven Gerrard to sensationally win that game on penalties after drawing level at 3-3 in normal time – the greatest ever comeback in Champions League history.
Steve McClaren – not a winner
So going back to half time at Stamford Bridge in that critical game for Newcastle when we were 3-0 down at half time to Chelsea – what did Steve McClaren do?
He gave up the chase and went into what the Brits call damage limitation mode.
That basically means you accept defeat and want to limit the extent of the loss.
Newcastle lost 5-1 and the rest is history.
The squad was whisked away on a five day holiday to the south of Spain with McClaren insisting all was in fact OK and they would work very hard and sort things out in Spain.
We lost the next two games, 1-0 at Stoke when we went all out for a 0-0 draw and then 3-1 at home last Saturday to Bournemouth for our 5th defeat in the last 6 games.
In short – that is one huge difference between Steve McClaren and Rafa Benitez.
Rafa is a winner – Steve McClaren is not.
Actions speak louder than words.