Toon triumph – but terrible display will concern boss McClaren

Date published: Saturday 7th November 2015 3:44

Newcastle climbed away from the relegation zone but Steve McClaren will have contrasting emotions after the smash-and-grab win at Bournemouth. 

“We think we’re going in the right direction now and we have to maintain that confidence and that belief but it’s about getting results. To keep that belief going you eventually need wins.”

The victory did come for Newcastle at Bournemouth but the Magpies’ performance is likely to have had the opposite effect after McClaren’s side robbed their hosts at Dean Court.

The Newcastle boss will happily take the spoils, of course, and point to the last two games against Sunderland and Stoke during which their performances failed to get the rewards they deserved.

The opposite was true on the south coast on Saturday. Bournemouth outperformed the visitors in every respect – except the one that matters.

Only the Cherries’ profligacy and some solid goalkeeping from Rob Elliot separated the toon from a heavy defeat. Instead, they fly back to the north east with their second win of the season and another three precious points.

Frankly, Newcastle were terrible. McClaren must be concerned.

Defensively they were porous; Vernon Anita and Cheick Tiote were given the run-around all afternoon and their forward players were utterly starved.

But their only moment of Premier League quality can at least offer some encouragement for the future.

It came 26 minutes into the game, when Aleksandar Mitrovic’s flick and Georginiho Wijnaldum’s drive combined to put in Perez. The Spaniard retained his composure to nudge the ball underneath the left hand of Adam Federici.


The front four, featuring their two marquee summer signings Mitrovic and Wijnaldum, certainly have the quality to thrive in the Premier League. Consistency is lacking, but the raw ingredients are certainly there.

Behind them, you cannot say the same. McClaren has the Magpies set up so they can change systems fluently and their is some evidence of the change in approach from last season with the new manager encouraging his side to keep the ball rather than rely on the counter-attack. But it is doubtful that the players at his disposal possess the quality required and the absence of Jack Colback is keenly felt.

Vernon Anita is industrious but so is a pit pony. Cheick Tiote, meanwhile, looks a shadow of the player Arsene Wenger was once courting.

As McClaren’s base midfielders on Saturday, neither made a single interception in their own half, where they combined to make just five tackles. On the ball, they completed just six passes into Bournemouth territory.

There are plenty of other stats that make grim reading for Newcastle – while Eddie Howe will also be left scratching his head.

Bournemouth created 20 attempts on goal, while their 68 per cent possession brought 16 corners. Elliot was in superb form but most of his saves were the type you would expect a goalkeeper at this level to make. The Cherries’ wastefulness, combined with the inability to keep a clean sheet (only one all season), is a recipe for relegation, despite all their good work in between.

The smash and grab victory lifts Newcastle out of the drop zone, but unless McClaren is allowed to add proven quality in key defensive areas, they won’t escape far from a relegation fight.

Ian Watson


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