Archive for category: Formations and Positions.

Mike Williamson the star of Newcastle United’s “team of the season”

June 1st, 2013 | 130 Comments |

Model Newcastle United players.
Who made it? And who didn’t?
Below you can see two Newcastle United “teams of the season,” which I have assembled based on player statistics from, OPTA and

The first (and most important) is based on performances in the Premier League, with the second based on performances in the Europa League. The figures below the player’s names are their ratings from, which are based on a range of performance metrics based on OPTA stats. To put these into some kind of perspective, whoscored’s most highly rated Premier League goalkeeper last season was Sunderland’s Simon Mignolet with an average of 7.0. In defence it was Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen with 7.6 and in midfield the honours were shared between Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla and Tottenham’s Gareth Bale, both with 7.9. Finally, up front, Liverpool’s Luis Suarez narrowly pipped Manchester United’s Robin van Persie (7.8) with his 7.9 rating.

Getting back to Newcastle United though, although the goalkeepers, defenders and strikers were pretty straightforward overall, things became more complicated when it came to midfielders who had been played in several different positions during the season, gaining different ratings in different positions. However, after some work, I have finally managed to sort it out. (more…)

Newcastle United are still the biggest long ball side in the Premiership

April 17th, 2013 | 189 Comments |

NUFC - Route One.
NUFC: More ‘hoof’ than a Tesco economy burger.
“We were tighter as a team. We kicked the ball longer. We tried to get as many bodies around the ball as we possibly could to make it difficult for their passing game.” – Newcastle United first team coach Steve Stone praising a route one performance against Swansea City (which we lost).

“Alan Pardew will tell you that he tries to play good football – That’s rubbish, he plays long ball football. It’s very direct, there is no creativity in midfield, he just wants to play route one football. Every time I’ve seen his teams play, they play that way but he’ll say in the Press ‘we play good football.’ At times he can be a conman.” – ex player and pundit Stewart Robson when Pardew was appointed as Newcastle United’s manager.

Although Newcastle United have never been what could be described as a “pass and move” side, in their early season games I noticed Alan Pardew’s sharply increasing reliance on the long ball as a tactic in early season games against teams such as Aston Villa, Everton, Norwich and Reading. Because of this, and also because of Alan Pardew’s previous reputation as an old school “hoofball merchant” before he joined the club in December 2010, I decided to track Newcastle United’s performances in this respect. (more…)

S.L. Benfica – A complete guide for Geordies (part two)

April 2nd, 2013 | 45 Comments |

Estadio da Luz (Stadium of Light) - Lisbon.
The real Stadium of Light.
With the Newcastle United being drawn against footballing aristocrats Benfica for their Europa League quarter final on Thursday, here is part two of my guide to Benfica.

In part one, I took a look at some aspects of Benfica’s history, including it’s links to Newcastle United and the North East in general. In this one, I will looking at things like the club’s current form, it’s coach Jorge Jesus, tactics, some of Benfica’s key players and that sort of thing.

Benfica and Newcastle United have never played each other competitively, so we can get that one out of the way pretty sharpish and take a look at their current form.

Current Form.

Benfica’s form in the Portuguese League is pretty predictable. If they’re doing well they’re top of the League, and if they’re doing not so well they are second, usually behind their fierce rivals, FC Porto. Their other great rivals in the Portuguese “Três Grandes” (Big three) are fellow Lisbon side Sporting Clube de Portugal, but they seem to be in a bit of a pickle at the moment, currently languishing in eighth in a sixteen team league. (more…)

Pochettino: A force to be reckoned with for Newcastle United today

February 24th, 2013 | 6 Comments |

Pochettino: A force to be reckoned with for Newcastle United today.
Pochettino playing for Argentina in the 2002 World Cup.
In our game against Southampton this afternoon, along with our next one against Swansea City, we will be facing the teams of the two most talented and admired young coaches in the Premiership, Mauricio Pochettino and Michael Laudrup.

Of course, English fans including those of Newcastle United are very familiar with Laudrup the coach now, who has guided the Premiership minnows of Swansea to their first ever major trophy final later today in only his first season at the club. However, some of you might be less familiar with Pochettino, and may well (with good reason) have been somewhat bemused by the sacking of his Southampton predecessor, Nigel Adkins. This is especially so as it came just when things seemed to be starting to go fairly well for the Saints under a very decent manager. However, despite a record with his previous club Espanyol which hardly seems earth shattering on a cursory inspection until you understand the context, there is an excitement being generated about the young coach at the very highest levels of the game. Guardiola is a fan, as is Rafa Benitez, and despite beating them 2-1, Alex Ferguson thought his Southampton side was the best he’d faced at Old Trafford all season. (more…)

Guest Blog: Has Alan Pardew Finally Seen the Light?

February 8th, 2013 | 48 Comments |

Pardew: Pumping his little fist once again.
Pardew: Pumping his little fist once again.
Many thanks to “ToonBano” from the Toon blog for his sixth guest blog here – wt.

As I get over the shock of actually winning a game from behind for the first time in over two years and trying to get my head around winning back to back victories for the first time this season, something amongst our latest turn in fortune has jumped out at me (apart from the new signings) and that is the system. A formation of 4-2-3-1 has been paramount throughout recent weeks and it’s about bloody time. Maybe it’s because Demba Ba is no longer in a black ‘n’ white shirt as he gets his head kicked in by Coloccini but the ‘Hoofball 4-4-2’ days seem to be over. Are they over for good?

If this is the case and we are no longer subjected to the nonsense of lumping it up to the strikers, even when we are losing, then Pardew deserves some credit for finally seeing the light. After all it’s in my opinion that it was this factor of a pre-historic style of football that was holding this club back over anything else. Not the injuries or the Europa League, but the totally cowardly non-attempt at even trying to play to our strengths and actually play some football. Our long ball stats are dropping like a stone with every game that goes by. Thank the Lord. (more…)