Steve McClaren insists the anti-Mike Ashley protests at the end of last season didn’t put him off joining Newcastle United.
McClaren took charge of the Magpies a fortnight ago after accepting the job of head coach.
You can’t have splits and divisions and that’s something that probably will take timeSTEVE McCLAREN
He’d watched on at the end of last season as fans - unhappy with the way owner Ashley was running the club - boycotted games, protested outside of St James’s Park and even held a sit-in demonstration after the last game of the season against West Ham.
However, far from being deterred by the furore surrounding the club, McClaren says he wants to help the club ‘heal’ - and that he saw signs of everybody coming together in the final match against the Hammers, which Newcastle went into with their Premier League survival on the line.
When asked if the protests had put him off, McLaren said: “Not at all. I’ve been in the area 15 years so I know all the politics which go on at every club in the North East.
“That’s always a shame because to be successful and to win things which is the ultimate aim of this football club - and it should be in the top 10, top eight, going for Europe every year, going for cups, should be in contention and challenging - everybody has to stick together.
“You can’t have splits and divisions and that’s something that probably will take time and there’s a lot of wounds to heal.
“But I think it’s started on the last day, that West Ham game.”
McClaren signed a three-year deal, which could be extended to eight years, and also took a place on the club board.
But while he is pleased to commit himself long term to the Magpies, he knows the importance of making a quick start to the season to ensure the negativity from the end of the last campaign is banished.
“We talked about the length (of contract) but this is football and we have to hit the ground running and we have to get everybody onside,” he added.
“The most important thing is the players, the most important thing is the product you put out on the field.
“It’s got to excite, it’s got to have attitude, it’s got to have character.
“It’s got to be what the fans want it to be, that’s why they come.
The first thing I want to do is build a team and get a team out there that the fans can be proud of.”