Managerial Review: Steve McClaren
The way in which the 2014/15 season finished for ourselves, it was simply too close to comfort and with another season on the way, the board reacted by sacking John Carver. Steve 'wally with the brolly' McClaren was an interesting choice.
The former England manager had been manager of Derby County since 2013. Things were going well for Derby in the previous season, with 13 games remaining in their Championship campaign, they were five points clear of third-placed Ipswich (yes, Ipswich did reach those dizzy heights when Mick McCarthy was their manager, the fans force him out and look where they are now - anyway I digress).
Courtesy of picking up just two wins in those remaining 13 games, the midlands side had to settle for an eighth-place finish, two places and one point short of the play-off places. McClaren was heavily linked, along with Remi Garde, with the Newcastle job when Pardew left the club at the end of 2014. McClaren stated in an interview after his time at Newcastle and blamed Derby's collapsed promotion bid on the heavy speculation surrounding him with a move to Tyneside and players' morale was affected.
Despite falling short in the Championship, McClaren was given the Newcastle job and was back in the Premier League after a nine-year absence after leaving Middlesbrough to become England manager in 2006.
McClaren brought in good players with the money he had at his disposal but they were players that struggled to work well together as well as not exactly having the tactical know-how to get the best out of his squad members.
Summer signings included Georginio Wijnaldum from PSV who became the club's highest scorer in the season, all of those goals coming at St. James' Park. Young Anderlecht duo, Chancel Mbemba and Aleksandar Mitrovic were bought for a combined £21.5 million and Florian Thauvin, who had just been named in Ligue 1's worst team of the season in 2014/15, was bought for £12 million from Marseille. Since leaving Newcastle to go back to Marseille, he has since scored 56 goals for the French side and won the World Cup with France in the summer.
The start of the season produced a similar story to the beginnings of the 2014/15 season in that the fans had to wait until after October's international break for the first league win of the season however it came in spectacular fashion in a 6-2 home win over Norwich. Wijnaldum scored four (the last Premier League hat-trick scored by a Newcastle player) and Mitrovic scored his first goal at St. James' Park. It was a difficult time in the first half of the season. Tim Krul sustained an injury in early October which forced him out for the rest of the season and the Dutchman sadly never played for the club again however it left the door open for Rob Elliot who proved himself and won the fan's choice for player of the season.
Things began to pick up in the weeks before Christmas 2015 with consecutive wins over Liverpool and Tottenham (the last time Spurs lost at White Hart Lane). However the start of 2016 did not bring much in the way of good fortune. Signings that many fans saw as panic-buys included Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend for a combined £24.5 million. However they were unable to turn things around and a run of five defeats from six games saw the club 19th in the table with ten matches left to play. On 11th March, McClaren was sacked and Rafa Benitez, nine weeks after his sacking at Real Madrid, was swiftly brought in to try and save the club from relegation.
Dates: 10th June 2015 to 11th March 2016 (275 days)
League: Played: 28, Won: 6, Drawn: 6, Lost: 16, Goals for: 28, Goals against: 53, Goal difference: -25, Pts: 24. Win ratio: 21%
Home (league): Played: 14, Won: 4, Drawn: 5, Lost: 5, Goals for: 21, Goals against: 21, Goal difference: 0, Pts: 17. Win ratio: 29%
Away (league): Played: 14, Won: 2, Drawn: 1, Lost: 11, Goals for: 7, Goals against: 32, Goal difference: -25, Pts: 7. Win ratio: 14%
Domestic Cup: Played: 3, Won: 1, Drawn: 0, Lost: 2, Goals for: 4, Goals against: 3, Goal difference: +1. Win ratio: 33%
Home (all competitions): Played: 17, Won: 5, Drawn: 5, Lost: 6, Goals for: 25, Goals against: 23, Goal difference: +2. Win ratio: 29%
Away (all competitions): Played: 15, Won: 2, Drawn: 1, Lost: 12, Goals for: 7, Goals against: 33, Goal difference: -26. Win ratio: 13%
Total: Played: 32, Won: 7, Drawn: 6, Lost: 18, Goals for: 32, Goals against: 56, Goal difference: -24. Win ratio: 22%
Season by Season
Premier League: (Played: 28, Won: 6, Drawn: 6, Lost: 16, Goals for: 28, Goals against: 53, Goal difference: -25, Pts: 24. Win ratio: 21%)
League Cup: 3rd Round (v Sheffield Wednesday)
FA Cup: 3rd Round (v Watford)
Newcastle United 4 (Florian Thauvin 3, Siem de Jong 8, Daryl Janmaat 56, Mike Williamson 63) Northampton 1 - 25/08/2015
New signing, Florian Thauvin started his Newcastle career in excellent style as he was the clear man of the match on his first start and home debut for the club. He got things off to a flyer early on as he converted a far post cross. Minutes later, he curled in the perfect cross for Siem de Jong to glance home. Later in the second half, he played in the overlapping Daryl Janmaat to restore Newcastle's two-goal lead and then knocked in the free kick that was headed home by Mike Williamson - scoring his last goal for the club. Thauvin finished the match with his first Newcastle goal and assisted the other three goals.
Newcastle United 6 (Georginio Wijnaldum 14, 26, 66, 85, Ayoze Perez 33, Aleksandar Mitrovic 64) Norwich 2 - 18/10/2015
Georginio Wijnaldum scored Newcastle's first hat-trick since Demba Ba in October 2011 (against Stoke). The players had just returned from the October international break and came up against Norwich in an early-season must win. The Dutch midfielder broke after a quarter of an hour after being played through by Moussa Sissoko. He added his second soon after Norwich's equaliser. The assist coming again from Sissoko with a cross from the right wing and Wijnaldum's header found a way under John Ruddy's body. Poor defending again from Norwich was the cause of Newcastle going two goals ahead as Ayoze Perez finished his chance with a second bite of the cherry following a good counter attack.
With the score at 3-2 going into the second half, there were some understandable nerves among fans as Norwich came close to a second equaliser. However fears were put to bed halfway through the second half when Mitrovic scored his first goal at St. James' Park. It was an emphatic finish from the Serbian international who was played through by Moussa Sissoko. Two minutes later, Wijnaldum grabbed his hat-trick with a close range header following a good cross from Daryl Janmaat from the right. In the late stages of the game, Wijnaldum became the first Newcastle player since Alan Shearer in September 1999 (against Sheffield Wednesday) to score more than three goals in a game. A deflected effort from long range helped it past Ruddy who had a torrid afternoon.
Newcastle United 1 (Aleksandar Mitrovic 32) West Brom 0 – 06/02/2016
The only goal of the game scored by Aleksandar Mitrovic helped Newcastle out of the relegation zone at Norwich's expense in what happened to be Steve McClaren's last win as Newcastle manager before receiving the sack just over a month later. New signing, Jonjo Shelvey, who had an excellent game, played an exquisite through ball to Mitrovic who placed it past the onrushing Ben Foster from just outside the box.
Further landmark matches
First match: Newcastle United 2 - 2 Southampton - 09/08/2015
Biggest defeat: Manchester City 6 - 1 Newcastle United – 03/10/2015
Last match: Newcastle United 1 - 3 Bournemouth - 05/03/2016