After failing to win any of their first 14 Premier League games of the season, Newcastle United are having to spend the remainder of the campaign fighting for every possible point to get them away from the relegation zone.
One player at St. James’ Park that is arguably to blame for the Toon being in the situation that they’ve found themselves in, particularly from a defensive point of view having conceded 44 goals in 23 games, is defender Ciaran Clark.
Since joining the Tyneside club from Aston Villa back in the 2016 summer transfer window in a deal worth a reported fee of £5m, the Irishman has made a total of 129 appearances for the Magpies across all competitions in which he has managed to score 11 goals and provide four assists along the way.
Despite his occasional prowess in front of goal, the 32-year-old has been a real liability for Eddie Howe’s side at the back in this current campaign.
In 13 league appearances this season, Clark has racked up an overall performance rating of 6.24, making him the lowest-rated outfield player in Howe’s squad to have started more than one league game according to WhoScored.
This shows just how disappointing he’s been for the Magpies and why he is partly to blame for the team’s poor start to the season.
Having been criticised earlier this season by Jamie Carragher for his “shocking” defending, or, more specifically, his lack of defending during Newcastle’s 4-0 defeat at home against Manchester City, Clark also let his side down by getting himself sent off in the early stages of their 1-1 draw against Norwich City.
In addition to that, the veteran has also given possession away 6.6 times per game on average this season, totalling 86 times across just 13 matches, showing just how incapable he is of keeping the ball.
Taking all of this into account, it’s easy to see why the defender has not been included in any of Newcastle’s two previous matchday squads in the league.
Moving forward, now that Dan Burn has come in and made a good impression during the club’s recent 1-0 win over Aston Villa, it’s hard to see Clark getting much game time between now and the end of the season, which could actually improve their chances of avoiding relegation but not look good for the player’s future under Howe at St. James’ Park.