The Premier League was always going to be a tough challenge as Newcastle United stepped up a level.
Nowhere more so than when it comes to goals.
Last season in the Championship Newcastle scored for fun, no other club getting more than the 85 the NUFC squad put in the opposition net, averaging almost two per game.
The expectation for Newcastle fans in the summer was that Rafa Benitez would be backed at the very least to bring in another decent quality goalscorer to go with Dwight Gayle, as well as a much higher standard number 10 instead of Perez or Diame.
Neither thing happened.
Little wonder then that Newcastle have scored only 14 goals in 15 Premier League matches so far, an average of less than one per game.
As well as an overall lack of quality up front, the creative department has been sadly lacking as well, with a massive reliance on set-pieces for the goals United have scored.
The last seven matches have seen five goals in total for Newcastle and only the Dwight Gayle strikes against Man U and Chelsea came in open play, the other three from set-plays.
Easier to say than do but Newcastle have to keep up the threat from set-pieces but also add more goals in open play.
Last season, only three Premier League clubs failed to average a goal a game or better…
As you can see, failing to score goals proved football.
Hull with only 37, Middlesbrough 27 and Sunderland 29.
I understand people getting worried at the increased number of goals Newcastle are conceding (12 in the last four) but playing against better opposition and missing Lascelles have been big factors in that.
I think against run of the mill PL teams Rafa Benitez can fix that (conceding so many goals) to a great extent but scoring goals is more of an uphill struggle.
Against Bournemouth, and even Man Utd, there was a definite shift in Rafa trying to play a formation/team that could help create more chances and goals, but it didn’t quite work out – due to bad luck and poor execution.
Two home matches coming up against decent but not brilliant teams, Rafa has to look to score goals against Leicester and Everton, as I don’t see the value in simply sitting back and hoping to defend for 90 minutes and sneak one through a set-piece.
Newcastle’s success this season depends massively on finding a way to score more goals, failure to do so could well prove fatal.