Yesterday, Newcastle United announced the appointment of Steve McClaren on a three-year deal. The former England manager comes to Tyneside with a CV dominated by failure, including failing to qualify for Euro 2008 with England, after being outclassed and left in the rain by a Croatian side with the likes of Ivica Olic in their prime. Since then, McClaren’s management career has been rather insignificant, apart from his first stint at Dutch side FC Twente, with whom he won the Eredivisie title back in 2010. Impressed by this alternative interpretation of reality, German club VfL Wolfsburg, going through an identity crisis at the time, decided to give the Englishman a chance in the Bundesliga and what followed was expectedly underwhelming and the club parted ways with McClaren after only seven months, during which he managed a win ratio of less than 30%.
In a way, Newcastle and McClaren are a decent enough match, given the club’s recent struggles and their need for stability. Unfortunately for the Magpies, stability does not seem to be something the supporters desire as much as success, and the way in which the Newcastle faithful seem to define success is strange too. It seems as though, there is a genuine demand for competing with the league’s big spenders on a regular basis. In other words, anything other than a top-four finish is somewhat disappointing. As such, it is obvious that not necessarily club owner Mike Ashley or the club’s management need a reality-check, but indeed, it is the club’s support that needs a changing attitude.
It is baffling to think that former manager Alan Pardew managed to maintain a fairly impressive win ratio of around 40% in four years, with only limited resources, and supporters still questioned his abilities. The man gave the club the needed stability and it was obvious that Newcastle would be on the way to regular top-half finishes. However, things changed last December when Pardew saw an opportunity to escape the stress of St. James’ Park and decided to join London club Crystal Palace, where he has managed an impressive 12 wins in 21 games. Newcastle on the other hand, finished the second half of the Premier League season one above bottom-placed QPR, after only three wins in 19 games. This was a wake-up call of sorts.
Whatever the case might be for McClaren and his new team, the reality is that fans are likely to disapprove, unless Newcastle beat everybody to the Premier League crown. This would certainly buy the former assistant of Alex Ferguson enough credit to remain on Tyneside for longer. Until then, let us reminisce and watch the DVDs from mid-90s and hope that Champions League football may eventually return to the North-East.