Steve McClaren saw his captain, Fabricio Coloccini, commit himself to the club for another two years and then aimed a shot at Newcastle’s former manager Alan Pardew for unsettling the player.
Coloccini agreed to extend his contract at St James’ Park until 2017, ending speculation that he would be following Pardew to Crystal Palace. The Argentine has not kicked a ball in pre-season and McClaren admitted the player’s head had been turned by the interest of several clubs, including Palace.
On Wednesday Palace took the unusual step of issuing a statement to say they had no intention of signing the player, a move that surprised Newcastle. The saga over Coloccini’s future was ended this morning, when he added another year to his existing deal.
“People have denied it [the interest] but it’s a fact,” said McClaren. “That’s affected Colo in terms of somebody being out there offering him a three-year contract. It was a distraction. So we went along with it and we had to make a decision and I asked a lot of people and the senior players and to a man everybody wanted Colo in the team.
“They respect him as a player as a man and as a captain and from then on it was quite simple just to sit down and go, ‘You know what, we want you’. From day one, he said to me he wanted to finish his career at Newcastle but there were three or four opportunities that he had. As always in these decisions, we had to make a statement and the club has done that. Colo is back on board. He’s been here for seven years and there has been speculation.”
McClaren takes charge of his first Newcastle game on Sunday against Southampton, There has been a tempered increase in optimism following his arrival, new coaching staff and three new players in Giorginio Wijnaldum, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Chancel Mbemba.
“I never believe in that [a honeymoon period] and I think it’s becoming less and less anyway than a few years ago,” McClaren added. “That doesn’t matter where you are, that’s any country. The pressure is on me from the outset. As a head coach, you have a lot of exams and we’re judged on those exams, rightly or wrongly. We’re criticised, rightly or wrongly, about performance and this and that and, yeah, for everybody, it’s about results.
“What I’m looking for is to build on that, get a good performance of what we want and what the fans want and then generally you’ll get the result. But a honeymoon? I don’t believe in these honeymoon periods at all. Once it starts and whatever happens on Sunday, at least we’ll have evidence of something on Monday morning and people will be writing exactly what they want to write. That’s football.”
Newcastle have fought relegation in two of the last three seasons and McClaren added: “We want it to be different and it needs to be. The messages from the club over the past few weeks have been very clear and a statement of intent, following up from the owner’s words, with three very good seasons and maybe more on the way. But I think it’s been a certain statement by the club and we’ve got to make that statement on the field now. That’s what we want to do.
“It’s going to be different, a different style, different football and everybody has got to be able to adapt and cope with that. So, yeah, every season is a fresh start but for Newcastle United it’s a welcome one and I’m the guy, the head coach in the seat, who has to take it forward, with very good staff and very good players, and so we’re in a very good position to do that.”
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