McClaren needs quick turnaround to revive his reputation

West Ham's French midfielder Dimitri Payet scored twice against Newcastle.
West Ham's French midfielder Dimitri Payet scored twice against Newcastle.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • It took Steve McClaren several years to overcome his image as a figure of fun, standing on the touchline at Wembley under an umbrella as the rain poured down and England were eliminated from the Euro 2008 qualifiers.

A "wally with the brolly" tabloid newspapers dubbed him.

After some restorative work abroad with Twente and Wolfsburg, he returned to English football for an unsuccessful spell with Derby County. His reputation is in danger of sagging again unless Newcastle, whom he joined in June, quickly improve on their early-season results.

McClaren's nemesis that wet Wembley night, Croatia's coach Slaven Bilic, was in the opposite technical area again on Monday as West Ham's 2-0 victory sent Newcastle to the bottom of the Premier League with two points from five games.

It was the north-east club's fourth successive league game without scoring, despite net spending during the summer transfer window estimated at more than £41 million (S$88.8 million), second only to league leaders Manchester City's.

Newcastle's passionate supporters have long been urging controversial owner Mike Ashley to spend some serious money to strengthen the squad. Now that he has done so, McClaren risks becoming the new target of their anger.

Critics have pointed out that his four main signings all came from Belgium, the Netherlands and France, with no experience of English football.

To be fair, the most high-profile of them, Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, has hardly helped with his indiscipline.

Given a yellow card less than five seconds into his debut against Southampton, he was sent off for an even worse challenge against Arsenal and banned for three matches, starting with Monday 's game.

Newcastle must therefore continue to do without him for their next fixtures, at home to Watford on Saturday and Chelsea on Sept 26.

McClaren has been in football long enough to know that results are everything, so he understands better than anyone that Newcastle need some positive ones - and quickly.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2015, with the headline 'McClaren needs quick turnaround to revive his reputation'. Print Edition | Subscribe