Mark Lawrenson predicts Newcastle v Southampton, comments on Steve McClaren

Steve McClaren

Mark Lawrenson believes Newcastle will start the Steve McClaren era with a win today.

Pundit Mark Lawrenson has predicted in his BBC Sport column that Newcastle United will edge Southampton out at St. James' Park later today.

The Magpies have had a fascinating summer having avoided relegation from the Premier League on the final day of last season, replacing John Carver with Steve McClaren as the club's manager.

McClaren has been able to bring in the likes of Chancel Mbemba and Aleksandar Mitrovic from Anderlecht, as well as Georginio Wijnaldum from PSV Eindhoven.

They now start the season with a home clash against Southampton, who were something of a surprise package under Ronald Koeman last term.

Both teams have big aspirations this season, and with an intriguing encounter upcoming, Lawrenson has told BBC Sport that he believes Newcastle will win the game 2-1 - before praising new Magpies boss McClaren, labelling him a 'very good coach'.

"Steve McClaren is a very good coach and I am expecting Newcastle to have a very good season after their recent problems," said Lawrenson. "They have better players, there will be a better atmosphere and they will get better results."

"Southampton have a lot to live up to after the way they performed in Ronald Koeman's first year in charge. They have lost a couple more key players in Morgan Schneiderlin and Nathaniel Clyne but I would not be surprised to see them end up in the top half of the table again," he added.

The St. James' Park crowd will no doubt welcome McClaren as well as the club's new signings this afternoon, in what promises to be one of the most closely-contested games of the opening weekend.

A Newcastle win would certainly give supporters belief that McClaren is the man to reverse the club's fortunes after years of dismal displays - but they certainly won't get anything easy from Southampton.

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