As Newcastle’s season started with an entertaining 2-2 draw with Southampton at St James’ Park, we take a look at five things we learned from Steve McClaren’s first game in charge of the Magpies.

Georginio Wijnaldum looks like a player

From the first minutes against Southampton, it was clear Newcastle have bagged a quality operator. Even without his brilliantly taken goal, the Dutchman certainly showed signs of the kind of form that seen him beat Memphis Depay to the Eredivisie Player of the Year last season.

He supported Papiss Cisse well, never leaving too much space between the two so Cisse was never isolated. His link-up with Moussa Sissoko was also excellent and should have led to the first goal. He expertly delayed his charge into the box like a “number 10” should and was only denied by a fine block.

Where Siem de Jong is going to fit into the 4-2-3-1 system remains to be seen but with Wijnaldum’s energy and eye for goal, Newcastle now have options in a position they’ve struggled to fill in recent years.

The Chancellor has arrived

From the minute he strode into St James’ Park wearing a tuxedo, all eyes were on Chancel Mbemba. The centre-back looked totally at home with Fabricio Coloccini and showed excellent strength, reading of the game and pace to thwart numerous dangerous-looking Southampton attack.

On one occasion, Shane Long attempted to poke the ball past him and run into space behind him but the 21-year-old used his pace and strength brilliantly to simply shepherd the striker away from danger and find Tim Krul.

He lacks height but his leap is extraordinary and with performances and outfits like the one he showed on debut, he should have no problem keeping his place in the heart of the Newcastle defence this season.

The new system still needs work

It was pleasing to see Newcastle pass the ball quickly and at a high tempo. The build-up style was always more likely to cause Southampton problems and with Sissoko enjoying his battle with Matt Targett, they had a dangerous threat.

As is always the case when playing in such a brave style, it will take time to perfect. The centre-backs splitting and offering short options whenever Krul had the ball was reminiscent of Barcelona but the Magpies showed their naivety when they tried to play into the midfield. The full-backs get caught too high up the pitch if Newcastle lose the ball and this happened a couple of times and almost led to Southampton scoring.

In time, the players will become used to the new style and soon Newcastle will have an attractive new style which has no sign of Mike Williamson hoofing it towards Papiss Cisse.

Set-pieces are still a problem

One of Newcastle’s biggest weaknesses last season was their inability to defend set-pieces. It is well documented that Steve McClaren has been working on improving both attacking and defending corners and free kicks but there is clearly still work to do.

Maya Yoshida should have buried a header in the second period and while it was an excellent ball into the box, the lack of black and white shirts attacking the ball was worrying.

One of the reasons for the problems could well be the lack of height at the back for the Geordies. Mbemba and Coloccini playing at centre-back is certainly the most talented pairing but both lack height and despite Mbemba’s excellent jump, there are times in games when both defenders are going to be beaten in the air.

Mitrovic is a nutter

There was a buzz around St James’ Park when the £13m summer signing entered the pitch and an explosion of laughter when the Serbian scythed down Targett within three seconds of the ball being back in play.

It may have been one of the funniest fouls since Daryl Janmaat chopped down Mario Balotelli last season but Mitrovic could have seen red and spoiled his debut.

The challenge certainly showed fans what type of striker the former Anderlecht man will be but he needs to develop a cooler head if he is to succeed this season. There was also an incident with Jose Fonte later where he could have picked up another yellow card but the referee didn’t seem to notice.

There is no doubt that Mitrovic’s aggression and talent will see fans take to him though and once he breaks his duck in front of goal, there should be no looking back for Newcastle’s latest nutter.