A Stuttering Start to the Season and the Damning Stats to Prove it

Posted on October 6th, 2019 | One Comment |

Steve Bruce
Steve Bruce: Not a big fan of tactics.
Newcastle United currently sit 19th in the Premier League and with Manchester United and Chelsea eagerly waiting around the corner, it seems unlikely Steve Bruce’s men will be rising up the table any time soon. There is an argument that it is too early to worry, as Newcastle were in fact sitting on fewer points this time last season. However, when comparing the same fixtures, Newcastle accumulated 9 points last season, while only picking up 5 this season. This begs the question; where are Newcastle going wrong?

Last week Bruce emphasised the importance of maintaining more possession – As Newcastle had the least amount of possession in the league last season, he may well have a point. However, Newcastle only managed 30% possession at the King Power last weekend and were rightfully on the receiving end of a 5-0 drumming. That said, it must be taken into consideration that the majority of this game was played with only 10 men and against top 6 contenders. However, the issue becomes more concerning when Newcastle’s game against Brighton is taken into account. Newcastle only managed 29% possession at home to relegation rivals Brighton, in a game in which must have been highlighted as a potential 3 point game. To concede so much of the ball in front of a home crowd is frankly unacceptable, especially when the end result does not justify the means, with the game ending 0-0.

Before the start of the season Bruce announced his intentions to play open, attacking football. Given that Newcastle have only had 64 shots so far this season or 9.1 per game (the lowest in the league) according to whoscored.com, it would be safe to say that open, expansive football is not something you would associate with Newcastle United. Newcastle United have the lowest shots per game ratio of any team in Premier League with 9.1 and are the second lowest for shots on target with 2.7. Most importantly, the Magpies are the joint lowest goal scorers (with Watford) having scored only four so far.

This is despite attacking summer additions of Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin. Granted, Saint-Maximin has been injured for much of the season so far, however, Joelinton has been almost non-existent, fighting over scraps from hopeful long balls. Meanwhile, Almiron has been pushed out on the right, where he has never previously played. To say Almiron has been ineffective in this position would be an understatement, as he has shown none of the initial promise he displayed as a new signing in February. This use (or misuse) of a potential key player, must surely be contributing to the damning attacking stats, as Almiron should be a driving force going forward in this team.

While the tactical decisions coming from Steve Bruce are interesting to stay the least, the stats speak for themselves. Regardless of opinion or interpretation the truth is this; Newcastle United have not been performing to an acceptable level this season and something has to change. Whether this change is to come from the gradual implementation of a new managerial philosophy, a stroke of genius (wishful thinking) or something suddenly clicking; it seems unlikely that Newcastle’s fortunes will change any time soon. This is especially true given that Bruce has admitted he “doesn’t like tactics”. That said, it is important to remember that nothing will truly change for the better until Mike Ashley has gone. Even without Steve Bruce at the helm, Newcastle United will continue to be a stagnant club for years to come under Ashley’s guidance.

NUFCBlog Author: Ollie Ollie has written 2 articles on this blog.

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