Steve McClaren’s right-back dilemma – who can stop Man United star Memphis Depay?

Memphis Depay
Memphis Depay

Steve McClaren moved to bolster his attacking options this week with the £13m capture of Florian Thauvin.

Another sizeable investment by the Magpies, taking their summer spending spree to £50million with five new signings – four of which are attackers – heading through the entrance door at St James’s Park.

Daryl Janmaat is sent off

Daryl Janmaat is sent off

But it is the other end of the pitch that will be causing the club’s head coach the biggest headache ahead of tomorrow’s daunting trip to Old Trafford.

A trip to play Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United side – who have their tails up after a promising start to the new campaign – is probably the last fixture that McClaren would have wanted after the 2-0 defeat at Swansea City.

That loss in south Wales was the club’s seventh straight league defeat away from the North East. A grim fact.

And ahead of tomorrow’s match you wouldn’t bank on Newcastle putting an end to that unwanted run anytime soon.

If Newcastle had a settled and in-form defence, then McClaren may feel a little more optimistic.

But despite £50m being spent this summer, just one central defender has been added to the ranks - Chancel Mbemba.

Further defensive recruits are needed before the summer transfer window closes a week on Tuesday.

Another headache McClaren could have done without is to travel to the North West without one of his trusted lieutenants, Daryl Janmaat, who saw red in the defeat to Swansea and will serve a one-match ban this weekend.

Janmaat was one of the few players to come out of last season with any credit but he struggled against Swansea’s Jefferson Montero, who ran him ragged.

After getting his marching orders four minutes before half-time, McClaren moved Vurnon Anita to right-back. It was a stop-gap measure before the half-time break allowed McClaren the chance to tinker.

But with defensive options limited, versatile Anita could either keep his place in the centre of midfield for the trip to the Theatre of Dreams, or he may be moved into right-back from the start – with Cheik Tiote coming into the engine room.

The more likely option is to continue with the defence that played the second half at the Liberty Stadium.

Steven Taylor came on at the break for the injured Moussa Sissoko, slotting in at centre-half alongside captain Fabricio Coloccini – who struggled badly against an in-form Swans side.

That meant new boy Mbemba was pushed to the right-back berth and it could be argued he coped better than Janmaat did against wily Montero. But only just.

Whoever lines up at right-back will have a difficult afternoon marking Man United’s wing wonder Memphis Depay, a former team-mate of Georginio Wijnaldum at PSV Eindhoven.

With Taylor you know what you get, a no-nonsense display from a player willing to throw himself at everything. But he also has a mistake in him.

And there will be no room for error against a Man Utd side including not just Depay, but Juan Mata, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Adnan Januzaj.

One positive is that Wayne Rooney is on an awful run in front of goal, having failed to score in his last eight appearances – or four and a half months.

But before you get too excited, the Newcastle defence is his favourite to face when it comes to scoring and laying on assists for team-mates, with Rooney scoring 12 and providing seven assists.

Indeed the England striker has vowed to end his drought this Saturday lunchtime ahead of the visit of Newcastle.

Rooney – playing as the lone striker – said: “My mind is clear. I know how to play the role. It’s just a case of getting the chances and taking them, which I’m hopefully going to do soon.

“I’ve always enjoyed playing against Newcastle, so hopefully on Saturday I can open my scoring.”

You wouldn’t bet against him doing just that.