Newcastle v Liverpool: 3 BIG decisions for Steve McClaren as he attempts to save his job

Steve McClaren
Steve McClaren

Steve McClaren is weighing up his options for Sunday's home game against Liverpool.

Newcastle United are 19th in the Premier League after back-to-back defeats and McClaren has been contemplating changes to his team this week.

The club's head coach, however, doesn't have much room for manoeuvre given a lengthy injury list and a lack of squad depth.

But McClaren, the bookmakers' favourite to be the Premier League's next managerial casualty, is likely to make at least one change to his starting XI.

Here are three decisions McClaren has to make before he names his team.

DROP FABRICIO COLOCCINI

Fabricio Coloccini

Fabricio Coloccini

Should he or shouldn't he?

McClaren again refused to single out Fabricio Coloccini for criticism in yesterday's pre-match Press conference.

Coloccini has struggled for form again this season, and is yet to repay McClaren for the faith he has shown in him.

But it's clear that McClaren has been considering axing the 33-year-old.

Siem de Jong

Siem de Jong

He recalled Mike Williamson from his loan at Wolverhampton Wanderers in the wake of an injury to Jamaal Lascelles and the club's 5-1 defeat to Crystal Palace.

Williamson, however, could well have gone straight into the starting XI at the expense of Coloccini had he not joined Lascelles in the treatment room.

Assuming Williamson is not passed fit to play, McClaren could still field midfielder Jack Colback at left-back – and switch Paul Dummett to central defence at the expense of Coloccini.

But how would Coloccini react?

SMASH THE SYSTEM

McClaren has been tinkering with his formation over the past couple of months – he went from 3-5-1 to 4-4-2 – and another change is an option.

At half-time at Selhurst Park last weekend, McClaren brought Lascelles off the bench and switched to a three-man defence.

The ploy didn't work.

Lascelles committed a foul early in the half and Alan Pardew's side went 3-1 ahead.

Could we see him start with a three-man defence? Maybe. If Williamson is fit to play, he could add some height to a team which has conceded far too many goals this season.

Newcastle fans with long memories, however, will remember that such a move rarely worked in Kevin Keegan's first spell as manager.

Would McClaren fare any better in implementing it?

RECALL SIEM DE JONG

Siem de Jong must be wondering just what he has to do, and how bad things will have to get, before he gets a start under McClaren.

The forward has not started a Premier League game this season, despite the team's dismal form.

Up to now, McClaren has seen de Jong – who missed most of last season through injury – as an impact player to have on the bench.

De Jong, however, feels he could also do a job in a deeper role, and United aren't blessed with many options in central midfield, especially with Cheick Tiote unavailable through injury.

There is still a question mark above de Jong and his suitability for Premier League football.

De Jong is a lovely footballer, but does he have the athleticism and physicality needed to compete in the division?

We'll only find out if he starts.