It is quite difficult to describe the mood of Newcastle fans at the moment.

I think maybe the word is ‘expectant’.

A bit like the father to be pacing up and down the corridor in those black and white films before it was the done thing for dads to be to be ‘hands on’ and in the delivery room.

You know it (promotion) is going to happen but you can’t settle/relax until it does actually occur – and in the meantime you are incapable of really thinking about anything else.

Trying to understand what has actually happened this season, I started to look at various  stats.

By accident I eventually arrived at what I think is a reasonable conclusion as to why Newcastle fans are so baffled.

We were told before a ball was kicked and many times since, that Newcastle have the best squad that has ever been seen in the Championship.

Even those like Neil Warnock who declared that Brighton had the best eleven, still acknowledged that it was NUFC with the best squad.

So surely that should mean that as the season pushes on and game come ever thicker and faster, the bigger/better Newcastle squad should really start to tell.

Except…the reverse has actually been true, after the opening couple of games it was Newcastle that dominated with their best eleven (more or less) and threatened to run away with this league.

Only to then start to falter and for that to continue, with indifferent form/results for months.

Here are two Championship tables below: the first is after everybody had played 17 games and Newcastle beat Leeds away, the second is after 43 (Huddersfield and Wolves only 42) matches and is up to date.

Championship table on 20 November 2016 after Newcastle beat Leeds 2-0 at Elland Road:

newcastle fans

Championship table 20 April 2017:

newcastle fans

As you can see from the above, Newcastle were already five points clear of second and nine clear of third back in November, after a run of 13 wins and 1 draw in the last 15 games, with only 1 defeat.

The next five months and 26 matches have told a different story, below is the number of points each of the (current) top clubs have accumulated in this five months/26 match period:

57 Brighton

45 Newcastle

48 Reading

49 Huddersfield (played one game less than rest – from 25 games)

50 Sheff Wed

48 Fulham

47 Leeds

Quite remarkable that Newcastle with the strongest squad, allegedly, has in fact accumulated less points in these last 5 months/26 matches than any other club in the top seven.

Whilst some are lining up to have a go at Rafa Benitez as Newcastle don’t live up to certain expectations, I think that certainly the whole NUFC squad strength thing was totally overblown.

I believe most Newcastle fans think we have a core of six or seven players who pretty much pick themselves and then after that it is a bit of a lottery as to who is then picked, with a lot of very average players.

If a few of that core group of better players (Clark, Gayle, Shelvey, Hayden, Ritchie etc) is missing, then the replacements aren’t of anywhere near the same quality.

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])

  • Rich Lawson

    It’s bad team selections that have put us in a worrying situation,you have to put a team out for the opposition involved,not the same team as always that they will have 2nd guessed and changed their match plan accordingly

    • Geordiegiants

      Quite the opposite is being said about the ipswich defeat, so how does this make any sense?

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        Nowt makes sense at the Toon Geordie

        • Geordiegiants

          Ha ha ha, it never has, but some of these lot seem to think that there is a magic wand and abracadabra, its all our way. Jose is not having his best season ever, same goes for pep, last years Premier league winning manager is not having the best of times, does that make them all poor tacticians or managers? Honestly I despair sometimes.

      • Damon Horner

        because the right answer is what suits at the time mate. I mentioned at the weekend that for once everybody was saying the reason we played badly was because we took Anita, Perez, Mitrovic and Gouffran out of the team.

        The reason we lost at the weekend was mental, not squad rotation.

  • Jezza

    Two key factors at play here. Firstly Dwight Gayle getting injured and missing most of the second half of the season. Second and crucially no signings in the January window.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      Yip, the others made signings & kicked on we did the opposite

  • Soldier

    the other managers twigged on to Newcastle & adjusted their tactics accordingly
    we only play 4-2-3-1, they pack the midfield & with only 3 in the middle & 1 up top we`re done more often than not

    • Geordiegiants

      He is very much a man that sticks to his principals no doubt. The thing is history has proven it works very successfully. He needs to be backed with quality players not mifits. We will see if he stays firstly, then if he is backed and can do it again. What he doesn’t need is snipers in his own camp shooting at him.
      Pardon the pun.

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        you are spot on it works with class players. we haven`t got any !

        • Jezza

          Agreed, Rafa’s tactics are more suited to a team of quality players competing in the Spanish top division rather than a bunch of misfits in the second tier of English football.

          • Geordiegiants

            Rafas tactics are more suited to more quality disciplined players, unfortunately our players with the odd exception are pretty much average and prone to making the odd mistake here and there. Let’s hope with Pardews tactics next season. He can get them playing a different more direct game 😳.

      • Leazes Ender

        Far too many mifits in the team.

        • Geordiegiants

          That just adds to the reason that people should be supporting him, not condemning him. These sort of players were the only type we were able to get over the line.

          • Leazes Ender

            Whats a ‘mifit’?

          • Geordiegiants

            “Misfit” Ooooooh little miss perfect never makes mistakes.

    • Geordiegiants

      My goodness you have you have twigged on quickly and adjusted your comment accordingly twice just here alone.

      • Soldier

        i have`nt made any edits at all, get your eyes tested

        • Geordiegiants

          Are right, think I better quickly pop down and get them checked out then. Must of been seeing things, like comments removed and edited. My apologies I must of been wrong.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    The lads have went walkabout in typical Newcastle manner, it happened every season in recent memory.
    this lot will do a Geordie John Carver & leave it till the last moment to go up.
    then all will be forgotten until FCB sticks his oar in

  • Lord

    As others have mentioned, I think we’ve also been pretty unlucky with injuries and suspensions in 2017. Every games has seemed a slog from the time Shelvey took his ban. He comes back, Gayle’s out. Gayle comes back (tentatively), Hayden’s out with Yedlin. Then Clark. We haven’t had our successful ‘spine’ together for some months.

    No excuses mind, and a choice buy or two in January could have seen us over the line by now.

    • Leazes Ender

      Surely you meant ‘lucky’ with injuries…. this has been one of our better seasons…

      • Jimblag23

        But unlucky in comparison to the amount of time Brighton have been missing their key players.
        But I agree with no excuses, Brighton deserve it more than us.

        • Mark Scott

          Brighton have played well and have a more “settled” squad than we do after such a massive squad overhaul in the summer. They’ve played well and deserve to go up as champions after being the most consistent team in the league. Let’s just hope we get the job finished!

      • Lord

        No I meant unlucky. Compared to 09/10 where key spine players like Carroll, Nolan and Colo were available all the time (and not rotated!).

        I think we were pretty lucky first half of this season but certainly not the second half. I think Aarons could have been an asset this season too.

        Credit to Rafa for not bleating through, something he rarely does to be fair. Pardew would have been all over the injuries to our best players when defending performances like Fulham and Ipswich.

  • Wor Monga

    Where the idea of us having the strongest squad comes from is because most of our players have some PL experience and also various amounts of International experience…whereas most of the other clubs have very little of that sort of known quality, as back-up…

    …This looks very good on paper or for the media, but doesn’t necessarily say they will work the way we need them too, in a new club, in a new league… and obviously some haven’t been able to…

    …forget all that guff about the tactics being worked out or wrong team selections or even needing more players in January etc…the plain truth is we’ve lost critical players (Gayle, Clark, Hayden and Yedlin) and have worked the other critical players (Ritchie Shelvey Dummett Anita Lascelles and Darlow) non-stop without much of a break from games…

    …that’s because for whatever reason Mitrovic, Hanley, Mbemba, Gamez, Lazaar, Sels, Diame, Ayoze, Atsu and Colback haven’t been able to slot in and regularly operate, consistently at the high level we expected them too…

    …If they had then the 2nd half of the season would have gone exactly the way the first half did…no messing!!!

    • Damon Horner

      I never understood the working out of the tactics. Like Leicester City last year, it’s not hard to work out it’s all about how you stop it and losing Gayle was key to that.

      • Mark Scott

        We were set up well with the squad we had but losing Clark and Gayle has really had an impact and shows just how paper thin our squad really is in terms of top players who can perform consistently. We still have a lot of dead wood that Rafa has managed to paper over cracks with some good players and tactics that cover up some of the weaknesses. Hopefully he will still be here next season and allowed to continue his rebuild.

        • Damon Horner

          Gayle in particular is crucial to our playing style and for they have their strengths, Murphy and Mitro just don’t fit it the same way. Between that, leadership and a midfield player I think it’s all we need this window. Everything else would be to upgrade the current playing staff and we should trust Rafa to do it. Anything about him leaving so far is just guesswork.

          Clark and Lascelles have a good rapport which highly improves every CB which is why I think they’re first choice selection. Clark’s loss is not only his impact but the mental stability formed with them playing as a duo.

  • Vodkamagpie

    Second half of the season we have lost shelvey, gayle, hayden, Clark at different times. The winning momentum never got up and running due to this, not because of the January transfer window. I can’t think of any championship side in the top 7 that made a signing in January of note/impact.