Steve McClaren held his media conference today ahead of the Premier League clash with Chelsea at St James’s Park.
Here’s five things we learned from the under-pressure Magpies head coach.
1. He’s got a philosophy, you know, and it takes time
McClaren constantly talked about his ‘new philosophy’ at the club, and how he plans to stick to it.
After the troubles of Alan Pardew’s last 12 months, and John Carver’s terrible reign, Newcastle clearly feel they need a change in style and culture at the club.
McClaren was at pains to emphasise this – he mentioned ‘philosophy’ numerous times – when he held his media call.
He said: “We are changing philosophy, we are changing culture, we are changing standards, we are changing training – and some people adapt quickly, some people don’t, but it’s necessary change.”
Later in the press conference, he returned to the theme.
“You have to stick to your philosophy, and that’s what we are doing. The players are buying into that, we can see that, and the club is. We talk regularly and while it’s painful and while there are ups and downs and two steps forward, five back, we have got to stick our course and be strong in that.”
2. McClaren and Lee Charnley have a good relationship
Minutes before McClaren’s press conference, managing director Lee Charnley sent fans an email in which he apologised for the poor start to the season but backed McClaren and his staff.
McClaren was asked about the email, and admitted there is good dialogue between the two men.
“We talk a lot,” he said. The first day I joined here, I always go into a football club and ask, ‘What do you want?’, and they said they wanted change, they wanted to change everything in terms of the culture, the style of play, the development of players, how they want the club run.”
It seems that regardless of results – and it is only eight games into the news season – that the club will stand by McClaren in the belief he can turn the situation around.
3. Injuries are biting but there’s a boost
Papiss Cisse and Cheik Tiote will miss tomorrow’s game against Chelsea but will return to training on Monday.
However, Jack Colback and Rolando Aarons remain doubts for the game.
Both sat out the midweek Capital One Cup defeat against Sheffield Wednesday, but Daryl Janmaat should be OK after his sickness.
4. There’s a lot of responsibility on Aleksandar Mitrovic
The Serbian striker returns to the squad after his three-game ban, and McClaren looks set to start him against Chelsea.
The 20-year-old will need to settle down, however, as he has to carry the weight of expectation on his young shoulders and deliver goals.
“It will be good to have Mitrovic back, we have missed him for three games,” said McClaren. “We didn’t have a striker at all on Wednesday. We are short in that area.
“But Mitrovic coming back, he can be our vocal point, we need that with the style that we are playing. We saw that at Old Trafford. We need to see it a little bit more. It’s a great opportunity, just curb his enthusiasm. He is very keen to play. We welcome him back.”
5. Louis van Gaal is McClaren’s inspiration
A return to ‘philosophy’ as McClaren revealed in the tough times, he thinks about Manchester United boss Van Gaal.
The Dutchman has worked at some of the biggest clubs in the world and while he may not have had it easy at the start, he’s often managed to turn form and clubs around.
McClaren is using the experienced coach as his inspiration at Newcastle.
He said: “You can’t rush the process. We’d like to, but you can’t do that. I’m a big admirer of Louis van Gaal. I’ve followed him into Holland, I’ve followed him into Germany and now into the Premier League.
“I remember in Holland, AZ, I joined Twente and he was getting a lot of stick at the beginning of the season because they had had a bad season the previous one and the first two games, three games, he lost and they said, ‘If he doesn’t win the next game, he’s going to be sacked’.
“He won the next game, stuck by his philosophy and went on a 22-game run, won the league. He went to Germany, where I followed him at Wolfsburg, and the previous season – I watched it – Bayern Munich, exactly the same, struggled, change in philosophy, change in the German way of playing to a more possession-based.
“I remember in November, I went to Juventus and I was reading, ‘If they lose in Juventus, he’ll get the sack’. They won 4-1, they never lost another game and won the German League, and I have seen him come into the Premier League last season and say at the very beginning he would get it right, his philosophy.
“I remember they beat Liverpool, I think in March of this year and he actually then said, ‘that’s the team, they’re playing how I want them to play’ and since then, they have gone on and on.”