The Carver press conference headlines focused on the line that there are only 13 senior players to choose from in the build up to the Newcastle United v Arsenal match. Anyone would think we were unlucky.

Is it a case of bad luck, bad planning or bad management?

The first thing I always look for when hearing of a depleted squad is the injury list. For this I turn to the physioroom website which document injuries among clubs. In the build up to the Arsenal match, we see that Newcastle United are joint first with Palace, 8 injuries each.

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It is interesting that both squads have been managed by Alan Pardew this season, injuries being a perennial problem during his time in the North East. It would be easy to jump to the conclusion that it is down to him but looking back, we experienced the same under Allardyce. Could it be an English coaching problem, after all, most of the English managers in the Premier League come from the Howard Wilkinson years in his role with the FA.

Injuries have also been a problem under other managers, Shearer having a long lay-off in his Newcastle career, likewise Owen and many more besides.

Going back to the physioroom list, it is not just a problem for Newcastle. 11 teams have an injury list that includes 5 or more players. At this stage of the season, injuries are to be expected. It is interesting to see which teams have fewer than 5.

3 of the 9 are coached by younger English managers; Dyche, Pearson and Monk. Of the others, 6 occupy the top 7 positions in the league. Only Arsenal of the top 7 clubs have more than 5 injuries.

The nature of injuries throughout the league are predominantly to lower limb, joint or muscle. This is only to be expected from a contact sport where the legs do the work. As such, any club would be expected to plan for a rate of injuries through the course of the season. Of course timing can vary from club to club but there is an element of predictability although the rate can be improved with coaching techniques.

Returning to the physioroom list, there are a couple of omissions. One is goalkeeper Elliott, who would be expected to warm the bench in any event. The other is Ferrerya who has not played all season. Also, of that list, Aarons is not one of the ‘senior’ squad. It is noted, however, that Aarons was previously rushed back from injury, potentially contributing to the long-term problem. Any allegation of bad management would have to be laid at Pardew’s door, the coach merely being complicit.

Of course, 2 more of the senior squad are unavailable through suspension. Cisse has a 7 game ban after his spat with Johnny Evans, Coloccini having a mad moment in the Everton fiasco. Does this bring us to bad management?

Certainly, both of those suspensions can be argued to point to a lack of discipline, so next stop is a comparison with other clubs and disciplinary records in the Premier League.

The 1,079 yellow cards issued in the Premier League this season means that there have been an average of 54 per club. Newcastle United have received 52 of those so are pretty mush average. Once again, rates of cards received can be predictable and improved through discipline. As for red cards, yes, Newcastle’s tally of 4 is above the average of 2.7 but not significantly so. We can’t claim bad luck on that score.

So if the rate of injuries is predictable, likewise the disciplinary record, let’s take a look at planning.

The biggest misses will be up front and in central defence. It will not be forgotten that at the start of the season, we only had 2 players who had reached a double figure scoring record in the Premier League for Newcastle, Steven Taylor and Cisse. Cisse himself spent much of the last campaign recovering from a lower limb injury, that continuing recovery meaning that fewer than half his appearances this season have been from the start.

newcastle united

Also in the striking department, the only senior purchase was Riviere, the most expensive spectator in the Premier League. Our second top scorer is midfielder Perez, himself an Under 21, with on loan Ferrerya yet to feature. Arguably, de Jong may be considered a striker but despite his quality, his fee probably reflects a background of absence.

In central defence, the season has featured Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Williamson and the converted left back, Dummett. Of those, both Taylor and Williamson have experienced long-term injuries previously. Mbiwa was sent on loan, now sold. Potential cover, Santon, was also sent on loan and has now been sold. Yes, Lascelles was bought from Forest but he has been back in Nottingham for the season.

This will not be the first time this season that the club will have suffered from what appears to be bad planning. Of course when both Krul and Elliott were injured, poor Jak Alnwick (himself now on loan) was exposed due to our squad being one of the few without 3 senior experienced keepers.

With 12 midfielders in the 25 man senior squad, it would surely be churlish to point out that a few have had something of an injury record and that Vuckic has also been sent on loan.

If there is a problem, then planning is surely the biggest contributory factor. The above average rate of unavailability due to injury or illness in part stems from a transfer policy which looks at the bargain basement and soiled seconds parts of the market. Shortages in key areas of the field are surely due to an unbalanced purchasing policy, with the lowest rate of financial investment of any club in the Premier League.

Yes, Carver can carry some of the can for taking the job without securing investment but the buck stops with the man at the top, either Charnley who also failed to secure a top interim or permanent coach, or the owner himself, surely the tightest multi-billionaire in world football.

Yes, we can expect some new players in the summer, now that Carver appears to have extracted an apology from those above him. The big question will surely be whether the sales of players such as Sissoko, Krul, Janmaat and Tiote provide sufficient to strengthen the squad?

Rex also runs his own website (toontoon.co.uk) which you can visit HERE

To see the fans’ choice of today’s Newcastle team v Arsenal go HERE.

Match Betting: NUFC to win 11/2Over 4.5 goals in match 4/1Cabella to score a goal 22/5

See all the Newcastle v Arsenal betting HERE



  • Hez

    Players out; Sissoko, Tiote, Janmaat at least will go, mainly because they want to and clubs will bid for them. There will be others but almost gaurenteed is the money spent on players coming in will be due to money coming in from player sales. 4/5 relatively cheap imports to plug gaps, the sqaud will be a threadbare gamble with injuries and suspensions again and if we look safe (ish) in January that will do for the season, the only players coming in January will be to plug gaps needed to stay up if we don’t look safe (ish). There you go, something to look forward to!

  • Chemical Dave

    Spot on hez though I would like to add that if five players arrive that should be just enough to keep the gullible impressed.

  • wor monga

    You must be absolutely loving this bad time for the lads Rex…it
    really gives you something to get your teeth into, with all those statistics of
    doom and gloom, and tell us once again how better it could be if only!! 

    …Well
    you’ll probably have a lot more to tell us sad cases about…after the days game…no
    doubt…but here’s hoping for something, anyway…off now …Howay..The..Lads..

  • v0ices

    wor monga better than having a let’s love mike and all he does attitude while the club dies, half empty ground for a few weeks and he’s gone I have been waiting for it for 6 years but the st James social club members turn up and keep him here.

  • Chemical Dave

    But mong, you’re the one who calls people like Rex for whinging….make your mind up man. Get yourself to the game and sit in silence, you’re loving it remember??

  • RexN

    wor monga Nothing could be further from the truth than your scurrilous allegation.

    I’m well documented as giving Ashley a chance and have hoped that he will learn from his mistakes. Sadly, the 3rd best supported team in the country is run from the bargain basement and sad to say, the fears expressed earlier in the season have come to roost.

    Ashley is sitting on a gold mine that could be fantastic for us as supporters. Unfortunately, his attitude to gold is the same as Gordon Brown’s with Ashley only benefiting himself.

  • Paul Patterson

    At the end of the day, you can’t do anything about ‘Bad Luck’.

    But you can do something about ‘Planning’ and ‘Management’.

    You can get a manager in who is good enough for the league he’s managing in. You can sign enough players to get you through a reasonably unlucky period, you can rest players in games you stand little chance of winning and focus on the games you should. You can not sell two defenders in January to make a fast buck while the squads crumbling. AND, you can sign players that are good enough for the league you are playing in.

    Not at Newcastle United though . .

  • PeterRobson

    Not agreeing nor disagreeing with the article.

    However: In the military we had/have a saying: Planning and preparation prevents piss poor performance.

    At the start of the season, were the club not aware of the maximum number of players to be named in the squad (and the exceptions therein) ?

    25 if I remember correctly.

    Even allowing for injuries (every team has them to a greater or lesser degree), surely the squad the club named should have contained players suited to covering those positions, with of course the home grown players.

    So far, planning is not a strong point at the club is it ?

    Preparation is, as far as I can see at least, also not high on the agenda.
    Whether it´s the installation of a big screen TV or the possibility of a manager leaving, it´s clear there was never a back up plan other than Carver: a man more than willing to to the club line without reservation !!

    As for the last 3 P´s in the equation: I think we´ve all bore witness to them, and no ammount of promises or excuses or carefully prepared statements can make up for a team that is at best, just kicking its heels and planning where to go for summer holidays !!!

    Man and boy, terrible managers, ups and downs, and oh so close I´ve followed this team for nearly 50 years and loved it unconditionally.

    It´s a bit like marrying your childhood sweetheart (I did), then she walks out on you.
    It hurts for a long time but you get over it and sometimes even become friends again later.

    I´m walking away from a club I love (still), but hopefully I´ll get over it and maybe somewhere down the line, we can be friends again !!!

  • Mal44

    Anyone with half a brain and just a little knowledge of football could see that we needed, as a minimum, a striker and a central defender signed in January. We did neither and instead, through a combination of sales and loans, we significantly weakened the squad. The problem is we have an owner who is only interested in making money and an MD who has no idea how to run a football club; he is way out of his depth. The shambles we have now was predictable and will probably mean that our best players will want to be out at the end of the season and to go and play for a club that has some ambition and actually wants to win something. The whole club needs a clear out at coaching and playing level and a sea change in thinking at the top. I’m not holding my breath.