When the club was sat toward the bottom of the table having taken only two points from their opening four matches, it was so easy to sit back and say "Well, yeah... we brought in several new starters and a new manager and a new style and we had the hardest start to the season in the entire league and it was encouraging how we played and we didn't roll over at Old Trafford, right?"
We are now two further matches on and any lustre given by all of the positive feeling has truly worn off. The last two matches against West Ham and Watford were viewed as good opportunities to pick up points – if they had managed to do so, to be honest, the narrative this week would be completely different – yet what actually happened was that McClaren's Magpies and their supposed "continental style" fell flat against teams managed by continental managers Slaven Bliic and Quique Sánchez Flores. It wasn't just that they lost... they lost severely. In spite of holding 59% (!) of possession against Watford, the only breakthrough the team managed was through right back Daryl Janmaat.
Newcastle United supporters are being implored by their new head coach to be patient, which is all well and good when you're not even three months into your association with the club. The fact is that for supporters of the club that perennially appears in the lists of "Best supported clubs in Europe" the investment-reward ratio is out of skew to such severe proportions that if it were one of Mike Ashley's businesses, he would have jettisoned it so many years ago.
Reports that there are now "poisons" in the locker room are now coming out (just like Yohan Cabaye was accused of being a couple of year backs when Luke Edwards saved the Toon). Players that we were pleased at the time to have held on to when Ashley could well have cashed them in for significant profits but held on to for some unknown reason. Perhaps it was greed, there was a threshold number that wasn't crossed. Profit wasn't enough profit. Cheik Tiote and Papiss Cissé are examples of this. Whether reports of Tiote purposely holding himself out with "injury" due to his displeasure at still being a Newcastle player are true or not, what we do know is that he has been declining for years either through age or attitude and any ability to reach that threshold number has passed years ago.
Papiss Cissé was meant to excel this season while the club blooded newly signed Aleksandar Mitrovic. With a healthy Siem de Jong, Georginio Wijnaldum and Florian Thauvin in the mix (because it was all Rémy Cabella's fault!), the pieces were meant to be in place for him to light it up with his audacious strikes and knack of being in the right place. In application, we have been presented with Bad Cissé who is a beacon of poor body language, effort levels and has not yet scored only once this season. Of course, that is 33% of the goals that have been scored by the club in the League this season, but let's be honest. It's still not good enough.
The club were in desperate need of a reboot following the Alan Pardew era. They started that over the summer in part with the acquisitions of Wijnaldum, Mitrovic and Chancel Mbemba. We were told it was a "three transfer window job" to bring in the parts that McClaren would need to transform Newcastle United into his on-pitch vision. We were told that re-signing Fabricio Coloccini to a two-year contract was our "biggest signing of the summer". Those two years have thus far been good for two vintage performances from the man who was given the captain's armband for another year despite questions about his own deteriorating skill set and attitude.
Necessarily, one window into a three window process is a job partially done. It looks every bit of that on the pitch. Whether that is down to malcontents left over from the Pardew Era or poor purchases over years or what, it is unacceptable. If it was seen that we needed x number of players to get where we needed to go, why do the job part way? The players just aren't out there? Watford had no issue finding enough players to upgrade their playing staff significantly. 12 players in (four on free transfers) and they are looking very much like a polished object.
When the money (finally) started flowing in the summer, the news was met with equal parts of happiness and concern that the club had left it too late to finally bring the players in. In fact, it is now appearing that everything was left too late over the summer. The delay in finally getting a full-time coach in. The delay in getting a coaching staff in place. The delay in figuring out a pre-season program. The delay in getting transfers in. It is all expressing itself on the pitch now and has put the club behind the eight ball before the season even began. Any hope that Mike Ashley had "turned a corner" with regard to his attitude toward the club is now dampened by the obstinate refusal to spend all of the money at once to fix what is a deeply damaged investment. Even most of it, if accomplished in a more timely manner, would have likely avoided some of this train wreck that is currently 2015-16 Newcastle United.