After Newcastle United’s 2-0 defeat at Swansea, many people were asking themselves if the club had really taken any steps in the right direction. After all, the display showed many of the same weaknesses that the Magpies showcased had last season. The weekend’s match versus Manchester United would certainly be the tipping point in order to prove whether Newcastle had improved as a club or not. Instead, we ponder some of the same questions that we had before the start of the season. Have Newcastle United improved from their last campaign?
Newcastle United: All Questions Answered?
Manchester United is without a doubt a far better team than Newcastle; quality, wealth and a rich history place them miles ahead of the Steve McClaren-run squad. Still, the Magpies have inflicted quite a few wounds to Man United’s reputation in recent years.
This time, Louis van Gaal’s United dominated the game, creating many chances for the first 20 minutes. Afterwards, the match calmed down enough for Newcastle United to grow into the game. Man United were the better team, but it was not just because of the lack of firepower and Wayne Rooney’s inability to score goals; the match ended in a goalless draw. Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini were excellent at the back, and the whole Newcastle team was strong enough to keep Man United at bay.
Many experts would see this result as definitive improvement under Steve McClaren, or, to put it another way, without John Carver. Irrespective, the result also ended a seven-game losing streak away from home for Newcastle United.
Several of the new acquisitions for the Magpies seem like good buys as well. Georginio Wijnaldum is the type of creative midfielder Newcastle have lacked since the departure of Yohan Cabaye. Chancel Mbemba already seems a much safer bet than Mike Williamson at centre-back. Meanwhile, Aleksandar Mitrović has shown himself as a striker unafraid of picking up a few warnings, but his goal scoring ability is too early to judge thus far in the Premier League. Several of the more established players have also shown improvement; Tim Krul had a few bad matches last season, but already seems far more himself again, whilst Coloccini was criticised for lack of pace last season, but now seems more secure. As for new boy Florian Thauvin, well, he appears a very exciting player indeed.
While many Toon Army supporters will be disappointed with the departure of the likes of Remy Cabella and Mehdi Abeid, there is no doubt that both players struggled to make an impact on Tyneside. Cabella only had a few sound appearances in the Premier League last season, while Abeid was given his chance in a struggling Newcastle team, without ever making a difference. Abeid was certainly never going to reach the level required at Newcastle United, while Cabella can still prove himself on loan with Marseille.
There is still optimism at St. James’ Park. While many questions about the team remain unanswered after the first three rounds of the Premier League, improvements have definitely been made. Still, the match fixture list has left Newcastle United with a tough run; the next two, Arsenal at home, and West Ham away, are not matches Newcastle United are expected to win. However, at round six, the Magpies face Watford at home. This match will have to be the kick-start to a stellar run, if it does not happen before that. The only worry for the Toon Army is losing confidence in the tough matches beforehand.