The Premier League has been awarded an extra spot in next season’s Europa League thanks to fair play.
Along with Holland and Northern Ireland, the highest rated (via Fair Play) club in England’s top division will get European football.
This is the final season that extra spots will be awarded through this route, so how are Newcastle fixed in terms of grabbing that spot?
This is how the Premier League Fair Play table looked after 34 matches.
The categories that go towards the final points/ratings are:
(R/Y) Red/Yellow Cards
(P/P) Positive Play
(R/O) Respect Towards Opponents
(R/R) Respect Towards Referees
(B/O) Behaviour of Officials
As you can see, Newcastle’s fair play rating is about as good as our position in the real Premier League table.
With Liverpool almost certain of European football through their league position and Manchester City past that point already, it is West Ham and Everton fighting it out for the European Fair Play place, with Burnley the next challenger. Despite relegation confirmed, if Burnley did get above Everton and West Ham in terms of fair play, they would still get European football despite the drop into the Championship.
Surprisingly, it isn’t the number of Red and Yellow cards that has been the biggest factor in Newcastle’s lowly position in this Fair Play table. Each club starts off with 10 points per game for this category and then 1 point is deducted for each booking and 3 for a sending off. Despite United going red card mad, they are 12th in that category, safe in mid-table.
Instead it is a different and more interesting reason which is the biggest factor in United’s position in the Fair Play league, as well as arguably why we are where we are in the proper Premier League….
This is designed to encourage attractive play that will increase the enjoyment of spectators and the following areas are taken into consideration:
– Using attacking tactics, not defensive
– Speeding up the game
– Efforts to gain time (e.g. bringing the ball back into play quickly even if the team is in a winning position)
– Continuing to push for goals when in a winning position
When it comes to ‘Positive Play’, only Sunderland are rated worse than Newcastle. The Mackems on a ridiculously low rating of only 216 points with 4 matches remaining, then Newcastle and Villa on 234, Hull on 236 and then yesterday’s tedious Tony Pulis opponents West Brom on 243.
Looking at the official Positive Play criteria outlined above, it is really the story of our season.
Defensive not attacking tactics under both Pardew and Carver, then perhaps one of the killer thing – ‘continuing to push for goals when winning’.How maddening has it been to see the matches where Unied have gone in front, to then put the brakes on and trying to grind out a one goal win.
Interesting to see that already relegated QPR and Burnley have accumulated 246 and 255 points in this category compared to Newcastle’s 234.
Most neutrals would agree that their players are inferior to Newcastle’s but these points totals point to the fact that both of them have ‘had a go’, yes they have gone down but they’ve thrown everything at it.
At St. James’ Park we have watched match after match where United kick off with a lone isolated striker and the midfield so deep just in front of the defence.
No wonder there is such a terrible record over this past nine months of the opposition scoring in the opening thirty or so minutes and Newcastle hardly ever. The team is set up week after week to try and not concede a goal, rather than going out to try and grab the first one and set the players up for a win.
As much as desperately needing new players, Newcastle are at least as much in need of a manager who can instil an attacking formation and philosophy within the Newcastle side.