Literally speaking, but also metaphorically as well.
The more I think about our team, the more it seems that we have a team which has a deep rooted lack of fighting spirit and, to a degree, quality.
The mental side of the game is arguably the single greatest controlling factor on a player’s performance. You can have all of the skill in the world, but you’re shit if you don’t apply it. Just look at the countless smaller teams who have had surprise results against much better sides in the league and in cup runs. Simply wanting it more and turning the underdog status into a strength has a profound effect.
Perhaps we were foolish to think that a few good signings might turn things around. Even with the likes of Mbemba and Wijnaldum on board, we’ve still got a spine in the team which consists of players who crumbled last season and simply gave up.
Coloccini, Haidara, Colback, Anita, Sissoko, Cisse, Obertan, Gouffran. So on and so forth. They’re all still here, and merely a few months ago, they were all part of a team which had gave up hope and repeatedly collapsed under pressure. A new manager and new players don’t suddenly change the mindset and fighting spirit these players have.
The same problem applies to quality and ability as well. A big chunk of last season’s team still plays and starts, and they’re still completely disjointed and incapable of working together as a cohesive unit. The few new players gelling everyone together is a tough ask.
Perhaps some of the players we’ve got have played well in other teams as individuals, but we’ve inadvertently managed to bring together a squad which lacks any fighting spirit or ability to link up with each other well enough. The odds of achieving that are high, but we’ve managed it. We saw a lot of evidence of it last season and it’s carried right on through to this season as well, like we never even had a summer break.
And then you have players like Colback, who just seems to be cursed as someone who is devoid of any ability to win and be successful. Played for Sunderland, almost got relegated. Hopped over to Newcastle, almost got relegated again. Some players seem to be just prone to it.
I don’t think we’ll ever get out of this rut until we re-work the entire squad and root out the rot. The players with loser mentalities who don’t understand each others’ games all need to go, and that’s most of the squad. We probably won’t achieve consistently good results again until most of the defence, midfield and strikers are brand new.
And as a side note, I no longer trust Carr one bit. He’s helped to sign far more duds than successes now. Most of the decent players he’s signed lately have been pretty obvious to anyone who watches European football, and almost all of the “hidden gems” have sucked.
Do you agree that things might not be that bad after this season? Have your say in our discussion thread.
Some replies from that discussion thread:
“McClaren had a chance to really shake things up and change the direction of things by taking the captaincy away from Colo who has consistently showed for the last couple of years that he’s a poor leader who doesn’t deserve it. The fact that he retained the captaincy means the mindset of players here last season will remain the same.”
– Bodacious Benny
“The main sucker punch that came for me today was that I was quite confident that we’d see the changes that were so obviously needed. Basically when Pardew was in charge, if a player was in the worst form of his career, you could put your house on him starting the next match and I really thought McClaren was different. I really thought there would be no Cisse or Colback, maybe even Sissoko. I think that was the main disappointment outside of the result.”
“I agree with this. We have absolutely no passion and no leadership. How many times have you seen a Newcastle player lose his shit at conceding a goal of a defensive error? ZERO. What we are seeing is a team of 11 simply playing football and then going home and no doubt blaming the owner or manager for losing. We need players like Ashley Williams. Jamie Vardy, Mark Noble. A couple of passionate players willing to fight to the death for a win.”
– El Marko
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