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Friday 23 February 2018

Newcastle boss Steve McClaren: New players still adapting to 'culture shock'

Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren is looking for more of the same at Tottenham
Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren is looking for more of the same at Tottenham

Steve McClaren has admitted life at Newcastle can be a culture shock for some players.

The Magpies head for Tottenham on Sunday still deep in Barclays Premier League relegation trouble despite last weekend's 2-0 victory over Liverpool, and with some of their summer signings still acclimatising to the challenge of playing their football on Tyneside.

Big-money summer signing Aleksandar Mitrovic was left on the bench last Sunday, while fellow newcomer Florian Thauvin made a brief appearance as a substitute, and head coach McClaren knows it will take time for new arrivals to settle into a club where events off the pitch often overshadow those on it.

Asked if allowances had to be made for players arriving at a "bonkers" club, he replied: "That's a bit harsh! You don't work inside it, and it's not so bonkers inside. It looks it, though, doesn't it from the outside?

"A lot of players have been here longer than I have, a lot of them. We only introduced five, I think, and we always said that it would take time for them to adapt.

"And in terms of the job and adapting and blah blah blah, it can take the first half of a season to do that. I fully expect us to be stronger in the second half than we are in the first half.

"It's not an easy football club, as you and we all know, but that's the situation that we're in. I think the players know that and I think those new ones are coming in and adapting to that. I think it can be a culture shock to them."

Poor results in recent seasons, coupled with an antipathy towards owner Mike Ashley and his regime from large sections of the fan-base, have made for an uneasy atmosphere at St James' Park, although that was not in evidence last weekend.

However, McClaren revealed one of the first things he did on his arrival during the summer was to show the players footage of last season's final-day victory over West Ham, which secured the club's top-flight status.

He said: "For me, that was Newcastle United. The crowd was magnificent - they egged the players on - the players were full of fight and endeavour and work and that little bit of football that got the win.

"It's not rocket science. It's Newcastle and that's it: do that every week."

Press Association

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