Scrutiny about Newcastle United’s survival in the Premier League has divided many in the footballing community. The fact Newcastle find themselves in the bottom three is not surprising as poor performances, effort and spirit have categorised their season so far.
Many have even come to question whether the board and Steve McClaren are the reason behind Newcastle’s struggles this season, with many of the home faithful demanding McClaren to withdraw from his managerial position on Tyneside.
Although this may, hypothetically be a good solution to Newcastle’s woes, this may do more harm than good as altering management is a far too drastic step at this late stage of the season and may even unnerve the players, culminating in poorer performances than we’ve already seen.
Realistically, McClaren is a safe man until the end of the season and his guidance and familiarity with the players is something that should be kept at Newcastle as it is an environment he has become familiar with over the last year.
Although he has a dangerous and unsure task of keeping a troubled side in a hard league, McClaren must work hard to get the most out of all of his players and to ensure the spirit of his side improves in the coming weeks.
There is no doubt the fans will push Newcastle to succeed, the only question is how far the players will push themselves in response as the Magpies will be looking to improve on their recent humiliating performances against Everton and Chelsea respectively.
McClaren’s recent bid of improving the side in Spain has seen a new team emerge, with some players flourishing as a result. For example, Giorgino Wjinaldum has looked promising against his teammates in Spain, scoring multiple times in their training sessions.
The most shocking revelation from the events of Spain is the captaincy being given to Jonjo Shelvey, who, despite having only played four games for the Magpies, has proven the leadership and grit needed of the title.
The old captain, Fabricio Coloccini, has been dropped to the bench in a surprise move by McClaren. The questionable decision has been arisen by fans on media sites and while some may be thankful for Colocinni’s removal from the starting eleven, the significance of it proves frightening.
Giving away tradition
Coloccini has been a member of the old faithful, joining Newcastle United in August 2008 for a fee of £10.3 million. As a central defender, Coloccini has been first choice for a considerable number of years. He has always been a long-term tradition for the fans and in his first couple of seasons quickly sprung up to be a firm fans' favourite.
On 8th July 2011, Coloccini was named captain of Newcastle United and his quality soon shone through in April 2012 when he was named in the PFA Team of the Year and up until now, the Argentine international has been a staple of the Newcastle squad when in 2014, he made his 200th appearance for the North East club.
The fact that he has now been dropped from the starting eleven proves that the situation at Newcastle is far more dire than first feared, as McClaren is removing arguably the most experienced player in the Newcastle in regards to association with the club, appearances and familiarity with relegation battles. Removing his captaincy is breaking five years of Newcastle tradition and suggests that quality has succeeded experience at the Newcastle camp.
Newcastle are incredibly fortunate in their list of upcoming fixtures, so much so that they face the least challenging opposition out of their potential relegation opposition, providing them with the opportunity to get more points in the Premier League.
Newcastle face fewer top tier teams (Tottenham, Manchester City and Leicester City) than those around them and more mid-table and struggling teamsm meaning that Newcastle can almost control their own destiny in the Premier League.
However, like all positives, with Newcastle United, there is always a negative. Their record against teams in the bottom third of the table is the second worst in the Premier League (with a points-per-game lower than everyone bar Aston Villa at 1.25 per game).
Newcastle certainly have the quality to stay up with the likes of new additions Shelvey and Andros Townsend, whereas their staple first-team starters must inspire some courage as Wjinaldum, Alexsander Mitrovic, Ayoze Perez, Daryl Janmaat and shotstopper Rob Elliot have proven to be Newcastle’s best players this season.
Having spent £80 million under McClaren’s tenure, relegation would arguably be one of the most humiliating in Premier League history and will be something that should further inspire the players to reform their current work ethic.
They have the potential
From all things considered, Newcastle ‘should’ be able to see themselves clear of relegation. Their level of quality, familiarity with the Premier League and desire not to repeat the season of 2008/2009 (the last time they got relegated) should help to inspire the team to try harder in the upcoming matches.
However, as Newcastle possess some of the worst consistency statistics in the Premier League, this assumption is something to take with a pinch of salt. The performances in upcoming matches will illustrate whether Newcastle have the style and flare to stay in the Premier League.
However it’s fair to assume that the upcoming Tyne-Wear Derby will be a widely anticipated event in the North with both Newcastle and Sunderland fighting for survival and considering the game will take place at St James Park, Newcastle will have the fanatic support which may be the defining resource for survival.