Despite what seemed a productive summer, the same old story still lingers on at Newcastle United.
Monday’s 2-0 loss to West Ham was evidence enough that although an estimated £45 million may have been spent at St. James' Park this summer, the club are still dealing with the hangover from last season’s dismal campaign.
West Ham exposed the Magpies' lack of desire as they dominated for long periods of the game with more aggression and hunger, a problem known all too well to Newcastle. Two counter-attacks led to two goals for £10.7 million man Dimitri Payet as the Hammers made simple work of their visitors.
Worrying start for new signings
Four of Newcastle’s five summer signings are forward based players; attacking midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum; winger Florian Thauvin; as well as strikers Aleksandar Mitrović and Ivan Toney.
Despite this influx of attacking talent, Newcastle were lacklustre in the final-third and caught cold in their own half for both goals.
Newcastle have had just four shots on target in their previous three games. Three of these came from right-back Daryl Janmaat. The North-East club have gone a total of 402 minutes without a goal, whilst conceding a total of seven.
Business as usual
Two points from their opening five games leaves the Magpies bottom of the Premier League. Frighteningly, The Toon have won only two league games in the entire calendar year.
It’s a stat that will not read well for owner Mike Ashley who will be pondering how his money has been spent this past window, even if investments were long overdue.
If they weren’t before, Newcastle and Steve McClaren are now surely aware that there is no quick-fix to the underlying problems that plague the North-East side.
The 54-year-old has shown naivety in calling Monday’s defeat a “wake up call” for the club, as per BBC Sport. It is simply a case of business as usual given their dreadful form since January.
'Judge us after 12 games'
McClaren has implored fans to judge his team after 12 games. This Saturday will see league new-boys Watford visit Tyneside in what would usually be seen as a win on paper for the home team.
Watford however, have lost only one of their first five league games and come to St. James' Park on the back of a well-earned win over Swansea City, the very same team who easily defeated Newcastle 2-0 in August.
McClaren’s twelfth league game will be on 7th November 2015, away to Bournemouth. In between, the Magpies welcome Watford, Chelsea, Norwich and Stoke to St. James Park, whilst visiting Manchester City and bitter rivals Sunderland.
Newcastle must be stronger mentally
Given the form of those who have been promoted, along with teams around them strengthening, there are no easy games in the Premier League anymore and McClaren may regret asking to be judged after such a number.
Ultimately, a new manager always needs time to implement his own philosophy.
However it is clear that the mentality at Newcastle United has not changed after a psychologically damaging nine months.
If McClaren cannot rid the club of this mind-set, they could find themselves in another relegation battle come December.