After Another disastrous defeat and another poor reaction from players, how long can Steve McClaren stay in his job? 

The thrashing by Alan Pardew’s Palace could be argued to provide something of a benchmark. It will not be lost on many observers that this was only the 2nd time in his 8th season involved in the Premier league that a Pardew side has scored 5. 

The previous occasion was for Newcastle United, in January 2011 with Chris Hughton’s side beat West Ham 5-0. The Hammers went on to finish in bottom spot, 6 points clear of the next worst placed side and 7 points from safety. 

Steve McClaren’s appointment at St James’ Park was greeted with something of a mixed reaction. His supporters pointed to a League Cup win with Middlesbrough and an Eredivisie title with Twente. 

His critics pointed to his failures at Derby, Forest, Wolfsburg, his 2nd spell at Twente and being one of the few England managers not to qualify for a major competition. 

The Middlesbrough record is worth revisiting. McClaren was well funded by his Chairman, Steve Gibson. His league finishes were 12th, 11th, 11th, 7th and 14th. His target for the Magpies this season was at least 8th, something he has only achieved once. 

His record at Derby saw them miss out on promotion after a run of only 2 wins in 13, similar to his start with Newcastle. 

Here, at Newcastle, McClaren has also been blessed with a healthy transfer kitty. Roughly £50m was invested in bolstering the squad, the 2nd highest net spend in the Premier League last summer. 

Nevertheless, Saturday at Palace saw the 4th defeat by 3 or more goals in 14 games, a rate of 29%. It is conceivable that Jurgen Klopp, a manager who was available in the summer, might achieve the same next Sunday with his rejuvenated Liverpool, taking that rate to 1 in 3.  A week later sees a visit to Spurs.
 

It would be easy to suggest that the quality of this Newcastle side is poor. However, Saturday’s starting line up included 9 full internationals. There were 3 more on the bench. 

Ashley’s investment in the playing squad during the summer came after Newcastle’s 2nd brush with relegation on 3 years. It is a clue that he may not want wish to miss out on Premier League revenues for years to come, worth at least £100m per season. 

Relegation would also hit other revenue streams, notably gate receipts and sponsorship. Given the recent transfer strategy, Ashley would also lose the Premier League platform for adding value to players. 

McClaren’s side sit 2nd bottom with 10 points from 14 games, a rate of 0.7 per game. The established target to avoid relegation stands at 40 points in a season, although it safety is frequently established with fewer. 40 points gives a rate of just over a point per game. 

Put another way, to reach the safety target, a further 1.25 points per game are required between now and the end of the season. An improvement is needed of 75% on current trends. 

If the matches against Liverpool and Spurs were lost, the equations change. The points per game would decrease to 0.625, the required rate up to 1.36 per game, requiring an improvement of 118%. 

The simple message is that the longer Mike Ashley delays, the more exponentially difficult it is for a new manager to chase safety. 

Of the teams around us, Sunderland have recently appointed Allardyce, Villa have got Garde, a reputed former target for the Toon. Villa in 3 games time becomes a crunch match, potentially worth in excess of £100m. This could be a turning point for the season. 

Having been outwitted already this season by relative Premier League newcomers such as Flores, Monk, Bilic and the returning Ranieri, can Ashley really afford to wait? 

There are a number of candidates who we have already covered here. In addition to those, one of the other relegation escape masters is Pulis, contracted to West Brom. That leaves former coach at St James’ Park, Nigel Pearson and Alan Curbishley (succeeding Pardew at West Ham) as the only other people with experience of success in such a mountainous task. 

As a curiosity, Middlesbrough had been in a similar situation before the appointment of Steve McClaren. After 2 wins in their first 17 games in 2000-01, Terry Venables guided Boro to 14th. The manager who he covered for, Bryan Robson, did the same with West Brom in 2005 following 1 win in the first 22 games. It is not unachievable given the right manager. 

Ashley has been slow to respond in the past. This time, the slower he is, the more likely it will be to cost him. We do not know how much it would cost to dismiss McClaren but a guide might be the £2m limit that was included in Keegan’s contract. Put another way, that is roughly the equivalent of 1 Premier League place in terms of prize money.
 

The benefits of escaping relegation will be over £100m per year. Yes, Ashley has lost more, notably a reported £300m in his Stock Market derivatives speculation on HBOS in March 2008. Has he learned from his mistakes or does he enjoy the gambling thrill too much? 

McClaren is beyond his self imposed honeymoon period of 12 games. The judgement is that, as with England, Twente, Wolfsburg, Forest and Derby, he is not up to the job. The question is not if but when McClaren will be gone. The answer should be before the Villa match on 19th December. The end of the season will be too late.