Rather than provide a chink of light to cut through the darkness, Newcastle’s Capital One Cup assignment at home to Sheffield Wednesday only increased the gloominess currently enveloping St James’ Park.
A 1-0 home loss to Championship opposition was the very last thing Magpies manager Steve McClaren needed on his plate, but Owls striker Lewis McGugan failed to read the memo, sinking the Premier League outfit in the 76th minute.
The defeat was the Geordies fourth consecutively, taking in three home matches and leaving fingers of blame fixed on the man in charge.
After the match, the pressure on McClaren was palpable from the strength and frankness of his comments to the media.
McClaren said: “Is the job harder than I thought? Absolutely. Without a doubt. “People say it’s a crisis and it’s getting very close to it. We deserve to be criticised.”
It’s difficult for anyone to disagree at present either. McClaren’s misfiring side drew a fifth blank in eight matches against Sheffield Wednesday.
While a lack of attacking threat is an area of primary concern, the disjointed nature of their performances in general smacks of a lack of cohesion within the squad, where weeding out the deadwood is a priority.
The manager must also coax more out of some talented individuals who are simply not clicking in black and white as yet this term, such as bright prospect Ayoze Perez.
Whether or not McClaren is granted enough time to turn the tide around by owner Mike Ashley remains to be seen though, with the former Derby boss plummeting to 4/1 to be the next Premier League manager to leave their post.
Common sense would dictate that McClaren is afforded breathing space, but the perpetual sense of crisis at Newcastle has accounted for five different permanent managers since Sam Allardyce’s face failed to fit in 2008.
The Magpies face a resurgent Chelsea side next at St James’ Park in the Premier League and McClaren will be praying he can maintain the club’s fantastic home form against the champions to relieve some pressure.
The Geordies are 17/4 for a fourth triumph in a row over the Blues when they travel to Tyneside on Saturday teatime.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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