Ahead of Saturday's trip to Tyneside, we spoke with Magpies' fan Mark from the Newcastle United website
The Mag. He gives us his views on his team's struggles this season, Steve McClaren, Saido Berahino, and more. You can follow Mark and The Mag on twitter @NUFCTheMag.

It seems to have been a particularly poor season so far for United where's it all gone wrong?

Newcastle only stopped up on the final day of last season, so it wouldn’t take a genius to work out that we didn’t have the strongest team/squad in the Premier League. Around £50m might have been spent on four players but after a lack of investment in previous seasons, most fans knew that more quality players were needed. Repeatedly buying young players from weaker foreign leagues is always going to have a lower strike rate and currently we have two wingers on loan at Marseille who we paid out over £20m for in the last 18 months. Fans are more and more also questioning Steve McClaren, he talks a good game but...

What's the current feeling amongst the United support towards Steve McClaren?

The fact he wasn’t Alan Pardew gave him a flying start and ensured a longer honeymoon period than normal. Supporters appreciated how bad things had become at the club and accepted it wouldn’t be all cured overnight. However, with one win in the last nine matches, McClaren’s repeated claims that only bad luck, referees etc are preventing wins is wearing a bit thin. Plus his claims of the team being ‘tremendous’ in many games , including the one at the Hawthorns..., when clearly they haven’t been, is leaving him open to ridicule.

You spent heavily again in the January transfer window, are you happy with the deals the club did? Was there anything else you would have liked to have seen done?

Needing to buy in January is desperation and eight of the nine biggest buys were made by relegation threatened teams. We have been desperate for a decent left-back and another striker for ages but once again the money was spent across the middle of the pitch. Striker Seydou Doumbia has arrived on loan on deadline day but he hasn’t played a game for two months so there is a fear of too little to late. Shelvey and Townsend should certainly improve the quality but never easy parachuting players into a relegation fight. If Newcastle end up going down it will be because more should have been done last summer, not January.

Newcastle reportedly made a couple of bids for want-away Albion striker Saido Berahino, is he a player you would have liked to have seen at St James' Park?

He seems to have a lot of potential, both for scoring goals and causing trouble! Mitrovic was brought in as the main hope of goals and he only has four so far, Perez is the striker who has scored the most with five, so a bit of a no-brainer really that Berahino would have been welcomed with open arms considering our position.

How's the club's recent form been?

One win in nine tells you the story. Many of them by only one goal but a team that struggles to score and always concedes is in trouble. The one win was in the last home game against West Ham and the first half hour was the best we have played all season, so hopefully a repeat of that on Saturday...

How confident are you of survival this season?

You have to accept it is in the balance at the minute. This weekend is being seen as 100% a necessary three points, already in the bottom three Newcastle have away trips to Chelsea and Stoke to follow, with only 11 games remaining after those. Likes of Bournemouth and Swansea are winning games and it is looking as maybe heading towards any two from Newcastle, Norwich and Sunderland. A win against you lot and defeats for Norwich and Swansea would put fate back in our own hands but it is a toss of the coin until the Newcastle players start showing they are better than their current league position.

Have any players stood out for Newcastle this season?

Gini Wijnaldum and Chancel Mbemba have been the two big success stories. Mbemba is easily our best defender (not difficult!) and Wijnaldum has scored nine from midfield. Mbemba went off injured on Wednesday so could be good news for you, on the other hand all of Gini Wijnaldum’s nine goals have been at home....

Has anyone been particularly disappointing?

Florian Thauvin probably tops the list but there are any number who you can point the finger at. Moussa Sissoko is a player who on his day can look a real star but it isn’t much use when you only have three or four of those days a season – fans definitely think he should be giving us more. All the players though need to take responsibility sometime.

How are Newcastle likely to line-up on Saturday?

Steve McClaren is a little less negative at home. I expect Mitrovic back up front and fans will hope he is paired with Perez. Townsend and Sissoko will be on the wings and Shelvey should be pushed further forward than against Everton. Attack will be our best form of defence and so that has to be the intention on Saturday if we are to avoid disaster.

Thoughts on the game and prediction?

Newcastle have to come out like they did against West Ham and try to win the game early, if not then it could be a real struggle. I would go for 2-1 but Newcastle could be grimly hanging on by the end.

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