It is halfway through the international break, and as news is slow, we decided to sit down and do another roundtable to check in on how we as Newcastle fans are feeling about the club 4 matches into the season. Participating this time: Adam Snider (@sniderjadam), Chris Parry (@CParryETFS), myself (@ComingHomeNUFC), Souvik Roy Chowdhury (@souvikrc), Rachee Ross (@adultcereal) and Ryan Ptomey (@WriterRyan)
1) So we're four matches into the season and have two points to show. We're sitting 19th in the table presently. Are you concerned?
SRC: Yes and no.
No- I truly believe that the pedigree of the guys now at our disposal will surely drag us out from the current state of things. The outlook around the club and the fans seem to be more positive. This has permeated into my footballing soul as well.
AS: No. We had the toughest schedule to start the season, and I knew it would be tough. I was hoping for 2 more points at this point, but I am not terribly worried.
RP: Chelsea is sitting at 13, and Tottenham is down at 16. It's far too early in the season to start worrying about table positions, especially with the tough schedule we've had so far.
CP: Not really because of the caliber of clubs we’ve faced right at the start. If we had begun the season against Bournemouth, Leicester and Norwich I would be concerned.
2) Are you buying into Steve McClaren and his style of doing things around the club (on pitch and off)?
RR: There are definitely things that I like. There seems to be a lot of life in the squad that was missing last season (I wouldn't want to go to work if Carver was my manager either. I'd be calling in sick all the time). But, I still can't get around his insistence on sitting in the nosebleeds for the first half. I know WHY he does it, but I just find myself yelling, "GET INVOLVED!" at him every time.
AS: Yes. As a whole, his philosophy is being implemented well. The lack of discipline was very apparent under Carver and Pardew, and it was apparent from top to bottom. The players were coddled, not pushed, and their performance on the pitch reflected it.
SRC: The double six and the continental style of football is certainly intriguing. But, have we really witnessed it in full action? Not really. Only a half of dominant play in the first 360 minutes of action on the pitch doesn't really show us his inputs. However, the team as a whole seems to care. That's a positive I guess.
JM: I think so. I've always been a supporter of coaches and managers who do simple things like expect the players to show up dressed "respectfully". I really feel that makes a difference. I believe in where he's going on the pitch as well. As we get away from the Sky6, I believe we're going to see the squad really expressing themselves (and McClaren's ideas) much more assertively.
3) Which of Newcastle's new signings has impressed you the most to this point?
CP: Georginio Wijnaldum seems to be a real find. I like his pace, his movement and his willing to get in the box which was in evidence by his goal against Southampton.
JM: It's got to be Chancel Mbemba. He has been composed and influential at his home position. He was composed and influential out of position (Man U). His presence has helped Coloccini immeasurably. He's everything we needed in a CB upgrade.
RR: Mbemba's tuxedo.
RP: While Thauvin's skills and his showing against Northampton were a great first impression, I have to say Wijnaldum. His attitude and control of the midfield have been something this club has been missing since they sold Cabaye.
4) Describe to me your feelings about Aleksandar Mitrovic. Are you worried about him or no?
RP: I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried, but my worry isn't because of his conduct. I just worry that he hasn't scored yet. I actually like the craziness, and I think if he starts scoring enough to balance it out, he could be a very exciting player to watch this season.
CP: Not as much as I should be … the lad clearly has talent, but he has a microscope on him now as far as referees are concerned. You saw my Take 2 piece about the rough treatment he was receiving vs. Arsenal with nothing given his way. He just needs to adjust. Unfortunately, he has three games at least in the stands to watch and learn.
RR: I'm absolutely enthralled. What a joy that man is. I don't care how many dirty tackles he goes for, I don't care how many red cards he gets (he shouldn't have had any, but that's for another day), and I don't care how long it takes him to "settle down." He is out on the pitch with the passion and the swagger that I want in a footballer. All I want is players that want to play - for the love of the sport, for Newcastle United, for the supporters. It's what makes watching sports fun. He's bringing entertaining football back to this club. Give me more of that, please.
JM: I think he's going to be fine. I too weighed in on him following the Arsenal match and I really believe if someone gets in his ear and tells him he doesn't necessarily have to be Barney Badass in order to be "tough", he'll be able to stop worrying about the reffing.
5) Has Newcastle's performance in the transfer window convinced you that Mike Ashley and Co. have turned a corner in how they approach running the club?
SRC: Turned a corner? No. But he is certainly rounding the bend. While we can go gaga over our transfers, which we have every right to, I need to see a continued effort in upcoming windows to truly have faith in the man again.
RP: I'm a little baffled that we never brought in another defender even though that's where we're lacking in depth, but I do think we've seen a different Newcastle administration this summer. The club spent far more than I would've anticipated, and they didn't let go of any significant talent either. The transparency we're seeing is refreshing and unprecedented. After such a dismal second half of last season, I'm somehow feeling optimistic again, and I'm pretty sure that's not just the general lunacy of being a NUFC fan talking.
AS: Yes. The transfer window has showed their intent in pushing for Premier League and tournament success. They have made a good effort in opening up communication with the fans through social media and the weekly e-mails.
CP: Absolutely. Look, I know the popular thing right now is to slag off Mike Ashley and his transfer dealings, but if I had told you at the end of May that Newcastle would have brought in the Dutch Footballer of the Year from 2014-15, a solid center back who is only going to get better, a huge target man at forward and a pacy winger who makes it his life’s mission to put in good crosses and set pieces, you would have thought I was crazy. Oh … and the only players who go out are an underperforming Cabella, Vukicic on loan and Kemen, who we never saw play for the first tea much anyway. I think it has been a terrific offseason for Newcastle — one of the best in years.
6) On a scale of 1-10, rate the club's performance in the summer window.
JM: I'm probably somewhere around an 8 on the window. We really needed more defensive depth, but the quality that has been brought in is undeniable and encouraging. Steve has said this is a 3-window rebuild, so we'll have to wait and see, but we've got to be happy to this point.
SRC: 8. I rate the players that have come in. Would have love a few more additions. Then again who doesn't. Even Steve McLaren would have loved to a have a few more.
RR: 7. Some solid signings made, and we didn't lose anyone in the kind of heartbreaking deal that usually happens right as the window slams shut. You know. The kind that crushes our hopes and dreams of ever marrying Yohan...uh...winning anything with Yohan...uh...winning anything. I think we're still a little bit thin in some positions and there's still room to grow, but overall this has been a marked improvement to the last few summers.
RP: I am awful at rating things on a scale. They could clone Willo and play him at all 11 positions, and I'd still be like, "Welp, in my book, that's a 4, I guess." That said, I'd give them a 7. Another defender would kick it up to an 8. Some wins would take it to a 9. I suppose a 10 would be just making it rain goals like Shearer himself was on the pitch.
7) Tell me something interesting about yourself (you know, that you wouldn't mind dozens of people on the internet knowing).
AS: My second sport to the football is hockey. I am also proud to admit I am a St. Louis Blues fan living in Chicago.
CP: My favorite television show of all time is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Thanks for reading. Feel like you want to weigh in on some of the questions or answers above? Feel free to do so in the comments below!