Jermaine Jenas: Players faked excuses not to play at Newcastle in tough times

Jermaine Jenas.
Jermaine Jenas.

Jermaine Jenas feels Steve McClaren has been “bought time” at Newcastle United – by in-form Georginio Wijnaldum.

McClaren’s beat Liverpool 2-0 at St James’s Park at the weekend – but the club is still in the drop zone.

The win has bought McClaren some time to save his job, but it won’t count for much unless they find some consistency.

Jermaine Jenas

Jenas – who also played for Sunday’s opponents White Hart Lane Tottenham Hotspur – experienced highs and lows during his three years on Tyneside.

And the 32-year-old, now a pundit, has offered an insight into what it is like when things are not going well.

“The win has bought McClaren some time to save his job, but it won’t count for much unless they find some consistency,” said Jenas.

Wijnaldum took his goal tally for the season to seven with a strike against Liverpool.

And Jenas said: “The man who gives me most confidence is Wijnaldum.

“When things are good at Newcastle – and I was at the club during some very good times – there’s nowhere better to play football.

“But I also had a taste of when things were bad, and then it becomes a very tough place to play. The pressure that mounts on you from the fans is the equivalent of the huge support you get when things are great, but in reverse.

“I remember when I went to QPR they were fighting relegation, and before I joined a couple of their players warned me that the fans can get on top of you at Loftus Road when things are bad.

“I remember thinking it couldn’t be anything like Newcastle, and it wasn’t.

“When I was on Tyneside during tough periods, you could quite easily lose a few players to tight hamstrings and sore backs.

“Playing at home in front of 52,000 unhappy Geordies is not easy, and there’s no hiding place. It’s the easiest excuse for players to not play well, or in some cases not play at all.

“This is the kind of environment Newcastle’s squad – many of them inexperienced in the Premier League – have found themselves in, but Wijnaldum has stood tall.

“What I love most is the responsibility he takes in that team. He’s always available for the ball and prepared to receive it in tough areas.

“He doesn’t just want the ball when he has space – he’ll take it anywhere.”