Newcastle boss Steve McClaren has concerns over playing catch-up

Steve McClaren
Steve McClaren
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Steve McClaren has admitted to “concerns” ahead of the new season – as he’s playing catch-up at Newcastle United.

McClaren was appointed as head coach in June as the permanent successor to Alan Pardew.

And the 54-year-old has just one more friendly in which he can finalise his team for the August 9 season-opener against Southampton at St James’s Park.

Newcastle wrap up their warm-up campaign with a home fixture against Borussia Monchengladbach at St James’s Park tomorrow (3pm kick-off).

McClaren and his staff have been attempting to implement a new playing style in pre-season.

But he admits time is running out for him to make the necessary changes before the new campaign starts.

“I’m like every manager,” said McClaren, whose side were beaten 2-1 by York City on Wednesday night.

“You always have concerns – you never quite know where you are at, especially when you have just come in and you try to establish something and you are trying to play catch-up and get to know everybody.

“That’s what I am doing. I’m learning a lot.

“It has been short, but we have 10 or 11 days to go. They will be interesting days.”

Striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, signed from Anderlecht in a £13million deal, made his debut against York.

The 20-year-old had had just one training session with his new team-mates ahead of the club’s visit to Bootham Crescent.

And McClaren felt the Serbia international was slightly off the pace given that he hadn’t trained properly for a week.

“He showed what potential he’s got,” said McClaren.

“It was normal because he had not trained for seven days and missed that half a yard.

“That’s how far away he was in the box with each chance he had. He has that bit of devil about him, he’s a very good signing.

“He is going to be a big asset for us. It’s good to get him in. He needs a little bit of training.

“I told him half a game, but he wanted to play more so he has those minutes in his legs.”

After the York game, McClaren said Mitrovic had a bit of the “devil” about him on the pitch.

McClaren feels that Mitrovic will be a handful for Premier League defences.

He added: “He loses the smile and innocence when he crosses the white line. He’s a real footballer and real warrior.”

Reflecting on his debut, Mitrovic said: “I’ve only had one training session and one game.

“I wanted to score, but I was a little unlucky. Maybe it will happen on Saturday, or if not then against Southampton – that’s the most important game.”