Speaking to the Chronicle, Vurnon Anita has shared some interesting insight into life under Steve McClaren at Newcastle United.
Brought in after John Carver had ensured Premier League safety on the final day of the 2014-15 campaign, the former England manager was handed a sizeable transfer budget in the summer as Newcastle's net spend saw them rank second overall in England that summer.
Obviously, he proved to be a disaster.
Despite bringing in the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Florian Thauvin and Chancel Mbemba in the summer before Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend arrived in January, he won just seven of his 31 games.
Largely disliked by the St. James' Park faithful, Anita actually moved to defend his former boss somewhat.
"It’s hard to explain because I think it’s not his fault'', the Dutchman told Sean McCormick.
''I think it was a combination of circumstances why things didn’t work out for him."
Unpacking that is interesting.
Upon reflection, an argument could be made as to why the appointment of a man regarded as an excellent coach during a time in which the club were actively looking to buy young players, to presumably turn a profit on down the line, made sense.
The average age of his seven major additions was just over 22 and, perhaps in Ashley's eyes, the fact that an in-experienced Carver of all people had managed to ensure Premier League survival meant surely a former England coach could do too.
It was just that particular coach was a bad choice after seeing his managerial stock drop significantly in the years prior.
When trying to analyse what Anita meant by claiming it wasn't 'his fault', perhaps a look back into some of the reported dressing room problems can help.
Martin Hardy of the Independent described that scene in 2016 as 'so flimsy' it seemed a 'miracle' the Magpies fought off relegation as long as they did and there were suggestions of a dressing room row even after the arrival of the otherwise unifying Rafa Benitez away at Southampton in April of that year.
With Alan Pardew also claiming the club had signed too many 'rascals' over the years, perhaps Anita's words speak to more of deep-seated issue than merely who was in charge.
Obviously, McClaren does need to take his share of the blame along with those who appointed him in the first place but Newcastle in those days seemed like a genuinely toxic place to be at times.
Maybe Anita is right, it may not have been all McClaren's fault.
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