The Magpies, who had gone eight league games without a win since the start of the campaign, finally closed out a roller-coaster of a game at St James’ Park as €20m summer signing Georginio Wijnaldum plundered four goals.
McClaren said: “It’s Newcastle, is it possible to make any sense? That’s what we are fast discovering. I’m so pleased for the players, so pleased for the fans. There’s a lot of work to do, but it shows when it comes together what we are capable of doing.”
Victory came as a huge relief to McClaren and his players seven days before their derby trip to fellow strugglers Sunderland, and provided the club’s famous 88-year-old tea lady, Kath Cassidy, with the perfect sendoff after 52 years’ service.
But it came in nerve-shredding fashion as Wijnaldum struck twice and Ayoze Perez once before the break only to see Dieumerci Mbokani and then Nathan Redmond keep the Canaries in touch.
However, with the visitors pushing for an equaliser, the home side prospered on the break with Aleksandar Mitrovic extending their lead before Wijnaldum helped himself to two more.
Wijnaldum is the first Magpies player to score four goals for the club since Alan Shearer put five past Sheffield Wednesday in an 8-0 demolition job in September 1999.
“Of course we needed it,” the Dutchman said. “We had a few games where we played well, especially in the first half, but at the end of the game we don’t have the points or we had only the one point.”
For Norwich boss Alex Neil, it proved a frustrating day.
He said: “Offensively, we looked dangerous, scored two really good goals, hit the post twice, had other good opportunities to score; but defensively as a team ...”
Elliot, Janmaat, Mbemba, Coloccini, Dummett (Haidara 65), Sissoko, Tiote (Anita 46), Colback, Wijnaldum, Perez , Mitrovic (Cisse 88).
Ruddy, Whittaker, Martin, Bassong, Olsson (Jerome 84), Dorrans (O’Neil 84), Tettey (Hoolahan 62), Redmond, Howson, Brady, Mbokani.