I don’t want to worry anybody unnecessarily but do you think it is cause for concern that Newcastle United have kicked off the season with a bit of a struggle against some of the weaker teams?
Defeats against Fulham and Huddersfield were followed by a 4-1 win over Reading – but whilst Newcastle did deserve their win, the scoreline flattered the Magpies and it was still a bit of a scruffy performance that didn’t totally convince.
Then Newcastle faced Bristol City and an excellent defensive performance saw United bank three points – but only one shot on target (the winning goal) tells you that it wasn’t a dominant display, as the home team dominated all the stats apart from when it came to the number of goals scored.
Looking at last season’s Championship table, it does suggest that Newcastle have made hard work of what looked, at least on the surface, an easy introduction…
2015/16 Championship table
18th Bristol City
Only one club (Rotherham) finished below these clubs and didn’t get relegated.
Starting today against Brighton, Newcastle have a six match run of games that should tell us an awful lot more about how healthy NUFC are to face this 46 match Championship dogfight.
These half dozen matches take us up to Steve McClaren’s much talked about judge me after 10 (then…12, then judge me at the end of the season!) games.
These next six fixtures are
Derby v Newcastle
QPR v Newcastle
Newcastle v Wolves
Aston Villa v Newcastle
Newcastle v Norwich
That six game run includes the two teams that came down with Newcastle, plus the two highest placed teams who failed to get promotion – Brighton (3rd) and Derby (5th).
So what on paper looked in the summer to be Newcastle’s four toughest opponents, plus being the clubs that headed the bookies’ favourites after NUFC.
The absence of Gayle and Mitrovic hasn’t exactly helped today but that still shouldn’t be an overwhelming hindrance to Newcastle at last putting together a really convincing performance in the Championship, plus of course delivering what would be a fourth win in a row(including Cheltenham in the cup).
With more players being added in this final week of transfer business, we are set to see even more significant changes to the Newcastle squad, with Rafa Benitez admitting he is still looking for new players and a more balanced squad.
The sun is shining over Tyneside today, no better time for Newcastle to show their Championship (or should that be Premier League?) credentials.