Mike Ashley wants to sell Newcastle United yet barely listens to offers, the team can’t score goals and a worrying losing/non-winning streak is quickly forming. Have we somehow travelled back in time to 2014?
Aside from the club’s temporary sojourn in the second tier, the past four years have highlighted chronic failings in Newcastle’s ability to learn from simple mistakes.
Biggest among them is the inability to score goals.
Starting with the defeat at Burnley, this recent dip saw nine goals conceded with only one in reply, before the 2-2 draw at The Hawthorns. Across the season as a whole, we’ve already lost four matches by a 1-0 scoreline.
In a previous article this year, I said that Rafa at least had an element of variety in our striking options. Sadly Gayle, Mitrovic and Joselu are proving to be merely differing shades of ineffective.
Although 15 points is still a reasonable total at this stage, those have largely been collected as a result of strikes from other members of the squad. A trio of winning goals have come from set-pieces and Jamaal Lascelles & Ciaran Clark are joint top scorers with Joselu.
Statistically speaking, NUFC look like a Tony Pulis team. But at least this dead-ball proficiency is something new at St James Park. A lack of goals, however, is all too familiar.
The most recent relegation season saw a grand total of six defeats by the same 1-0 scoreline. A single goal in any of those games would have resulted in an extra point to our league tally and potentially survival.
Hopefully this season won’t rely on such glum arithmetic but putting the ball in the net is, and always will be, the fundamental factor in making a good team.
It seems that any prospect of a potent strike force has been hampered by Ashley’s policy of frugality. In fact, you would have to go as far back as Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse’s combination to remember a formidable pairing in black and white in the top division.
Decent defenders can be bought on the relative cheap yet forwards, much like prime steak, are expensive for a good reason.
As good a manager as Rafa Benitez is, he cannot compete with Jesus Christ. Water, in this case, won’t be turned into wine.
The club’s results will hopefully recover soon enough by remembering the discipline with which we started the season.
Yet there is barely any chance of finishing in the top half without finding a solution to NUFC’s longstanding deficiency in attack.