The former Magpies striker discusses goings on at St James' Park with HITC Sport.
At the end of last season, with Newcastle United having scraped to Premier League safety by the skin of their teeth, owner Mike Ashley broke his public silence to tell Sky Sports: “From this day forward, we will definitely be making our own luck. To be categorically clear, I'm not going anywhere until we win something.”
There was also a promise to invest in the playing staff, with the Magpies operating on a stable financial footing and Ashley claiming that they were ready to ‘punch above our weight’.
In fairness to him, the best part of £50 million was shelled out over the summer, with eight-figure sums paid to secure the services of Aleksandar Mitrovic, Florian Thauvin and Georginio Wijnaldum, while Chancel Mbemba did not come cheap either.
Dreams of silverware remain somewhat fanciful, though.
Yes, the club are yet to embark on their 2016 FA Cup campaign, which may well lead them up some famous Wembley steps, but putting daylight between themselves and the Premier League drop zone remains the priority, with it imperative that the struggles of 2014/15 are not repeated.
A slow start under McClaren did not bode well, and has the Magpies glancing nervously over the shoulder, but they did head into the international break on the back of a much-needed victory over Bournemouth, allowing them to leapfrog the Cherries and edge out of the bottom three.
The hope is that a corner has been turned, with many of the opinion that fortunes would improve once the new recruits settled into their surroundings and the man at the helm was given time in which to get his feet under the desk.
Former Newcastle striker Kevin Gallacher is among those to share that train of thought and is looking for consistency and momentum to help drag the club up the top-flight standings.
Gallacher, who was speaking at the filming of the Vauxhall Home Nations Football Show, told HITC Sport during a phone interview when asked if the Magpies will kick on from this point: “I hope so. It’s never good when you are watching an old side that you played for and they are struggling. I think it was always going to be a matter of time. You think a new manager goes in and things work right away, but it doesn’t always work like that. You have to work on things, and that’s what Steve McClaren is doing. When you get a result, you get a bit of belief and on a roll, and when you get on that roll then hopefully you can continue and climb the table to a little bit of safety in a reasonable position for the Christmas period, which is obviously when people start looking at the table.
“It’s just about continuing to create chances. When you get that first goal and that first win, then players build belief. They certainly have the talent, it’s just about using that to get the belief to get the right results. Hopefully that will happen now.”
Often, when assessing those scrapping at the wrong end of any given division, focus is locked on forward lines, with the general consensus being that those with the fiercest firepower will eventually prevail.
Newcastle certainly offer more in the final third, on paper at least, than many of those around them, with Ayoze Perez arguably the pick of the bunch as he once again looks to belie his tender years and spearhead a surge away from danger.
Gallacher said of the 22-year-old Spaniard, who has three goals for the season: “I have not seen him that many times, but when I have he has looked fast, sharp and is one of those sort of game-changers. It’s players like him that you need in the side.”
It is expected that the likes of Perez will be complemented in January with another influx of fresh faces, with there clearly areas that are still in need of strengthening, while the squad as a whole – especially in defence – could do with greater depth.
Gallacher said: “It’s a problem (injuries often leaving Newcastle short at the back in recent years) that I think will get addressed by the manager. Steve McClaren will be assessing everything. You can’t assess it all in six months, you have just got to go with people. In January, he will assess his squad, what he wants to do and where he wants to go in the future, and hopefully he can do that.”
Ashley may have to start dusting off his cheque book again, with the process of identifying potential new recruits well under way.
It could be that the outlook at St James’ Park looks considerably brighter by the time the window swings open, with there seven fixtures to be taken in before then that will put 21 points up for grabs, but the flip side of that coin could see the Magpies firmly entrenched in a dogfight and struggling to convince top targets that Tyneside is the right place for them.
Watch the Vauxhall Home Nations Football Show with Ian Wright, Gerry Taggart, Kevin Gallacher and Iwan Roberts by subscribing to Vauxhall Football on YouTube here.
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