Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Magpies Win Gives Us an Insight into the New Era

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Magpies Win Gives Us an Insight into the New Era

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Douglas at the International Stadium Twitter: @msidouglas

NEWCASTLE United launched the Steve McClaren era with a comfortable defeat of Malcolm Crosby's Gateshead. Papiss Cisse stroked home a penalty as Moussa Sissoko and Adam Armstrong missed chances.

Pre-season is notoriously difficult to read but there were a few clues as to McClaren's intentions as United strolled through a decent night's work on a pleasant mid-summer evening in Gateshead.

1 POSSESSION MIGHT BE NINE TENTHS OF THE LAW IN STEVE McCLAREN'S NEW SYSTEM Sifting through the wreckage of Newcastle United's last, lost season is a long and painful job but one of the clues Steve McClaren might have discovered in his comprehensive review of what made the Magpies' campaign so miserable is possession statistics.

Generally, United didn't have enough of the ball last season against the better teams to do damage.

When they faced the lower sides, they didn't know what to do with it.

So as McClaren lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, the way they endeavoured to keep the ball was the most interesting feature of the first half.

For McClaren, possession has to be key. Controlling games - which United rarely did last season - is going to be important and you can't do that without the ball.

With a touch of Dutch footballing intelligence in his team now (Siem de Jong looked sharp, Vurnon Anita played a part in the first half and Georginio Wijnaldum is ready to go), hopefully that's going to change.

2 DO YOUR RESEARCH ON THE DOUBLE SIX POSITION Apparently Wijnaldum had wanted to be at the International Stadium after passing his medical and inking a long-term contract with Newcastle. Without the deal being announced or finalised that wasn't deemed wise but his name was on everyone's lips.

So where's he going to play then? Well, start googling the 'double six', because that is where Newcastle see him slotting in by all accounts. It's a position most German sides use and translates into a box-to-box mid-fielder, prepared to work in the space between two penalty areas.

Looking at the side which started last night, that's an area United needed to strengthen. …

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