Steve McClaren has pleaded for patience as he attempts to change Newcastle United – on and off the pitch.
The club is in crisis just three months after McClaren’s appointment after a run of three successive defeats – including a Capital One Cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday’s reserve team.
We’ve been here three months. Sometimes it can be very quick, sometimes it takes a long time, but that is what we are changing.
And winless Newcastle are second-bottom of the Premier League ahead of this evening’s home game against champions Chelsea.
McClaren, also appointed to the club’s board in June, is also grappling with an early-season injury crisis which has left him short at both ends of the pitch.
Managing director Lee Charnley – who has also come under fire from supporters given the club’s failure to sign any battle-hardened Premier League players in the summer – yesterday backed McClaren and talked of the need for “collective responsibility”.
And McClaren knows that changes don’t only need to be made on the pitch at a club which has previously been content with mid-table mediocrity and early cup exits.
“We have come in here and are changing a lot of things and it’s hard,” said McClaren.
“Some people do not like change, but they have to go through it and it’s painful at times as it has been.
“We’ve been here three months. Sometimes it can be very quick, sometimes it takes a long time, but that is what we are changing.
“The club wanted it. That is why we came in. I think everybody, certainly from the outside looking in, was clamouring for change at Newcastle United from the top right the way through.
“They have certainly got that from the top in terms of reiterating about the cups (and) spending money.
“I think everything they said about changing Newcastle is happening.
“What is not happening is results on the field. Change is tough and hard. Why? Five wins in 32 games, staying up by the skin of their teeth (last season). That is why everyone is clamouring for change.”
McClaren has pointed to his experiences at Middlesbrough, where he didn’t make a “breakthrough” until his third year at the club when he had Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Mark Viduka scoring goals up front.
“At Middlesbrough we adapted and changed over five years,” he said. “The first year was painful, a little bit of quality in the second year and third year the breakthrough.
“Hasselbaink and Viduka scored goals, but it was three years before I got a decent team.
“We were 4-0 down against Aston Villa and they were throwing season tickets at me. We beat Chelsea 3-0 a week later and went on to the Uefa Cup final. That’s the experience you’ve got to go through.”
McClaren must work with what he has until January, when the club will have another chance to buy the experienced striker McClaren clearly needed in the summer.
“We have three windows to change this club around,” said McClaren. “It needs more work, most definitely. January will be the next opportunity.”