How can Steve McClaren fix Newcastle’s lack of quality in the final third?

Steve McClaren

Newcastle United once again struggled in front of goal against West Ham.

The Hammers defeated Newcastle 2-0 on Monday evening, in what was another poor performance by Steve McClaren’s men.

The Magpies were defeated by the better side on the day, with Dimitri Payer excelling for West Ham in the middle of the park. Defensively they struggled, and the Tyneside club every truly looked in the game.

However, the real worry with Newcastle is their play in the final third, with McClaren telling the Chronicle that even he could see that his players lacked quality when they tried to play offensive football.

The head coach said: “It’s difficult for everybody in terms of service. We lacked quality in the final third and with our crosses. We took risks and tried to remedy things. We got into the final third and lacked that cutting edge.”

Newcastle are currently the lowest scorers in the Premier League, with just two goals in five games leaving them bottom on the table, and their chances in front of goal were not improved against the Hammers.

They managed four shots on target, none of which were particularly threatening, and it was only in the second half that the Magpies started to look at all like scoring.

Papiss Cisse was isolated for much of the game, and only the substitutions of Siem de Jong and Ayoze Perez offered him support.

McClaren needs to ensure his side start this weekend’s game with Watford in better style, and the only way it appears as if he can do that is by naming De Jong and Perez in the starting XI.

He should drop his 4-2-3-1 system for a diamond 4-4-2, allowing Perez to assist Cisse in the final third, whilst placing De Jong in his favoured number 10 position.

This is the tactical set-up the Magpies changed to when they arrived on the pitch yesterday, and it was from then that the Tyneside club looked like a well functioning team.

In the first-half, as Newcastle have shown for much of the season, it did not appear as if the Magpies had a game plan, and none of the players appeared to have a role to play in the team.

McClaren had named a selection of players, rather than a team collective, and the players could not recover from a two-goal deficit.

However, they started to perform somewhat when the system was change and McClaren opted for a much more offensive style of play, and the head coach needs to ensure he fields an attacking team when Watford travel to St James’ Park this weekend.

Register for NEWCASTLE UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch