After a glimmer of hope, 7 points in 3 games, fortunes have taken a dip for the worse. What has gone wrong with this season’s campaign? 

We were promised a new dawn, well to an extent anyway. On his appointment, McClaren told us how impressed he was by Mike Ashley’s statement before the final match of last season. 

Let’s get a few things straight. Newcastle United were among the top 3 for net spend in the summer. Was this a sign of things to come? 

From Ashley’s point of view, Newcastle United remains just one of his many assets. NUFC will earn a lot more revenue from the Premier League next season that it will from being in the Championship. 

We should also appreciate how Ashley managed to create a £50m spend. This was not a dip into his own pocket. Since appointing Pardew, selling Carroll for £35m, he has used the transfer market to generate funds. 

After Carroll, Enrique was sold, a profit was made on the likes of Demba Ba and Cabaye. Players have been replaced to generate extra profit. 

From a financial point of view, it is also worth realising how the costs are represented in the accounts. The value of the player is depreciated over the life of their contract. Given an average of 4 years contracts, the spend this summer therefore equates to a spend of £12.5m per year. 

Bearing in mind outgoing players, there are offsets to the net spend. Remember Mbiwa, ben Arfa, Cabella, Santon and other loan players? The net investment compared to other club has been extremely low in recent years. 

So what of McClaren? 

We have a manager sacked by or left from Derby, Forest, Wolfsburg and his second spell at Twente. At Derby, he had a play off failure to go with an end of season that saw 2 win in 13 games. His England spell associates him with a brolly. He is not a top drawer candidate. 

Fair play, McClaren earned a title in Holland which his biographer appears happy to attribute to his coaches. He also achieved one top ten finish at Boro with a Chairman prepared to invest. 

The squad at the moment suggest imbalance. That is translated onto the pitch. 

Observers at the moment might suggest that Newcastle United are one of the easiest teams in the Premier League to play against. Yes there is attacking talent. Wijnaldum and Sissoko are deployed out side and can be devastating in build up play and creativity. 

When setting up against the present first team selection, opponents only need to know that play will generally go to the right. Wijnaldum is deployed on the left, is right footed and will drift to the middle. Sissoko is a central midfielder who will drift to the middle. There are no naturally left sided midfielders who will create from the left. 

All bar one game (Watford home) has seen two central holding players. Pressure on these can stifle the outlet and create opportunity for opponents if dispossessed. 

Let’s have a look at results. The first thing to pick out is 4 wins. 2 of those have been against promoted clubs, which of course should be expected. The 6-2 win against Norwich looks particularly impressive until the match is analysed. Newcastle won at the margins with the same number of serious attempts on goal. One keeper saved, the other didn’t. 

The Bournemouth game saw a 1-0 away win, scoring from the only shot on target. Elliott excelled. 

The Spurs and Liverpool matches had a few things in common. We played well for half a game in each. Both opponents had been through congested fixture lists, having been involved in the League Cup and Europe. Spurs ran out of gas, Liverpool had made 6 changes. 

There are other games that perhaps should have been won, notably Stoke at home when Butland performed between the sticks for the visitors. Sunderland away saw us dominate until a red card, later rescinded, put us on the back foot. Southampton at home highlighted weaknesses against wide crosses. 

Draws against Champions League Chelsea and ManU stand out as highlights. Some may argue that managerial carnage suggests that these results may not be as impressive with hindsight. 

Humiliations came against Man City, or at least Aguerro, Leicester at home and Palace away. 

The net result is too many goals conceded and too few scored. On those conceded, the majority have come from out wide, attacking central midfielders being too far upfield to track back in good time. 

In the goals for column, Newcastle have had fewer attempts than any other team. Are the strikers to blame? 

To score, chances need to be created. The strikers have only been able to feed off the opportunities they have been given. Mitrovic has shown that he can drop off defenders to create space. Ayoze has proved fleet of foot and industrious. 

As for service, Wijnaldum proved against Norwich that he can play in central midfield. However, when he is wide on the left, moves break down because he is naturally right footed. 

The biggest criticism from pundits has been that Coloccini has been pulled out of position too much. Is that fair? It is probably not in view of the deployment of central midfielders out wide. If they can not track back quickly enough, from the middle to the flanks at a pace closer to Concorde than Usain Bolt, somebody has to defend. 

So our half term assessment is quite simple. We have some decent players but imbalance in the squad. That comes down to Ashley’s inability to invest over a period at least in line with other Premier League clubs. 

The resource that is available has not been deployed appropriately. McClaren has to abandon his slavish dedication to two holding players tripping up over each other, sacrificing one of them for an attacking threat down the left. Chances have to be created somewhere. 

The end result is a “must do better”, both in terms of January recruitment and managerial application, whether under McClaren or an acceptable replacement such as Mourinho, if Ashley has ambitions. Otherwise the likes of Michael O’Neill and Temuri Ketsbaia could do a job if Ashley wants to give a new manager a chance. 

Over to you, NUFC! Change is required, have you got the desire to deliver?