As sure as night follows day, another Newcastle United manager is on the brink and the fans are to blame. Or at least that’s the same tiring message that some pundits are still pushing.
Once again, those with little knowledge of the club and its current situation are choosing to take aim at a ludicrously loyal fan base, and, once again, they couldn’t be more wrong.
The notion that Newcastle supporters are deluded or impatient is a laughable one, but, even so, the likes of Graeme Souness, Sam Allardyce and Alan Pardew have been – rightly – criticised with the team marooned safely in mid-table.
Steve McClaren’s United haven’t breached the top half since the opening day, and yet it wasn’t until Saturday’s risible home defeat to AFC Bournemouth that St James’ Park turned on the Magpies boss. And yet this was enough to draw the ire of national television commentators.
Paul Merson compared the reaction to that received by Allardyce at West Ham United. No outsider has the right to tell fans what to think or say, but at least the Hammers’ results were reasonable enough, making this a complete mismatch.
Newcastle have lost 18 of 31 matches since McClaren took charge, winning on only seven occasions. At any club that’s a pathetic return, but United were aiming for the Premier League’s top eight this term. In 19th, they’re 19 points off the pace.
Finally, with the Cherries running riot, a capacity crowd ran out of patience. McClaren wasn’t the only one to suffer either; Moussa Sissoko was jeered from the field after another inept display, while Emmanuel Riviere was surely only spared by his half-time withdrawal.
And therein lies another problem.
As well as dismissing naysayers due solely to their status as unrealistic Newcastle supporters, McClaren’s defenders usually point to his impressive coaching credentials. However, the 54-year-old’s prowess at the training ground means little if his match day performance doesn’t hold up.
With the Magpies head coach picking the substandard Sissoko time and time again, and then bringing in goal-shy pair Yoan Gouffran and Riviere for consecutive games, he is getting key selection decisions bafflingly wrong.
These are unnecessary risks.
In Georginio Wijnaldum, Ayoze Perez and Aleksandar Mitrovic, McClaren has the personnel to win matches at this level. These players don’t lack talent, only motivation. The likes of Gouffran and Riviere are never likely to offer an improvement.
Sissoko falls into the former category; a France international without a goal this season, he has ability but seems disinterested. The response to his substitution was brutal, but deserved.
Rather than any spectacular progress at this stage, United fans simply need their main men to play as they know they can in order to survive.
If McClaren can’t inspire that underwhelming outcome, this isn’t the job for him.