As Spineless As A North Sea Jellyfish?

Last updated : 14 February 2016 By Footy Mad - Editor

Image result for Sunday People columnist Neil Moxley

Neil Moxley:- 
The pose is not an ­unfamiliar one to Steve McClaren.

Sat in the dug-out, clasping a bottle of water, head bowed. Wondering why, why, why?

Body language Newcastle’s fans have seen over and over this season. He’s struck the same pose at the Etihad, Selhurst Park and Goodison Park. Stamford Bridge saw it. This time ­within 15 minutes of the start.

Watching in anguish as his expensive group proved once again that when it comes to backbone there is little to touch this Newcastle United vintage of 2015-16.

There’s more spine in a North Sea jellyfish.

Yes, when the going gets tough away from St James’ Park, these Magpies take one look at each other and flutter off into the distance, leaving behind the wreckage of a week on the training ground.

No wonder England’s ­erstwhile head coach looks like his blood pressure is rocketing skywards sitting, friendless, in dank south-west London, seeking answers.

A quick glance down his teamsheet shows the quality exists. But in practice this is merely a coming together of ­individuals who have ­demonstrated time and again that they do not have the ­stomach for a real battle.

Oh, sure they put on a show in front of 50,000 Geordies who, despite their creditably blinkered loyalty, should be taking them to task for ­continued dereliction of duty. Only these players don’t roll over on their own turf, do they? But catch one sight of the team bus and they head back into their shells.

Is it McClaren’s fault, for instance, that Georginio Wijnaldum allowed Willian to race past in the fifth ­minute, picking a pass to Diego Costa for the first goal?

Or that Steven Taylor could not clock that run from Chelsea’s striker in the first half or Pedro in the second as the Spaniard gleefully tucked home the fourth.

Or the fact rookie Rolando Aarons played a suicidal crossfield pass that was picked up by Pedro for the second goal in the eighth minute?

As manager, McClaren has to carry the can. But his ­players need to find defiance, grit and game ­intelligence away from home – or else they are down and out.

McClaren’s Newcastle want to play, pass and look good. Tap the ball around at the back, Jonjo Shelvey ­spraying 50-yard balls here and there.

They don’t want to go with runners, close down, attack balls in their own area, play what’s in front of them, be hard to beat. The manager cannot keep praising his team when they lose. And this was rank. Alarming. McClaren will know this. He has been around the block a few times. Now he really is facing the biggest test of his career.

If the Toon are relegated, the head coach, who hasn’t exactly delivered in his previous two posts in this country, will disappear with the ship.

The situation needs turning around – or else even patient owner Mike Ashley might be pressed into taking action.