Newcastle v Liverpool: Why this is NOT a 'must-win game' for Steve McClaren's side

Steve McClaren
Steve McClaren

One of football's most over-used cliches is "must-win game".

There are too many must-win games.

What happens when a team loses a game that it must, we're told, win? Nothing, more often than not. It's a meaningless cliche.

Anyway, Newcastle United rarely win the fixtures the club, apparently, "must win".

In an ideal world, Steve McClaren's side would win this afternoon.

But few on Tyneside expect the team to take all three points at St James's Park, and a Liverpool defeat is only a forlorn hope for the blue half of Merseyside.

The fixture is followed by an equally-tough game away to Tottenham Hotspur next weekend.

If the label "must-win game" has to be applied to a fixture, it should be the home game against Aston Villa later this month.

Anything but a win in that match could spell the end for McClaren.

In the meantime, Newcastle must at least give the club's fans some encouragement against Liverpool and Tottenham.

They need to at least give them a game, something they didn't do against Crystal Palace and Leicester City.

Maybe, just maybe, they could upset the odds against a revitalised team which scored six goals in midweek.

This fixture has been hit and miss in recent seasons. Ayoze Perez gave United a memorable 1-0 win last season, but in April 2013 they lost 6-0 in embarrassing fashion.

Newcastle supporters fear this game could be equally embarrassing.

If the team plays anything like it did against Palace and Leicester, it could be a long, long afternoon.

Training this week, apparently, has been lively.

Games have been played at a good tempo, and there have been tackles. Challenges, unfortunately, have been few and far between in the last 180 Premier League minutes.

In his programme notes, McClaren said there have been a "real focus" on putting things right.

But is the club's squad filled with "Monday to Friday players"?

That was the term used by Alan Shearer after last weekend's 5-1 defeat at Selhurst Park.

And it's hard to argue against him right now.

This isn't a "must-win game".

But United MUST show something – any some kind of performance would be an improvement – against Liverpool.