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Opinion

Remarkable home and away stats for Rafa Benitez at Newcastle United

2 years ago
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Since kicking off his first full season at Newcastle United in August 2016, Rafa Benitez has overseen exactly 100 league matches in those two and a half years.

In that time, it might surprise you to know that Newcastle have lost more league matches at home than they have away.

That is unheard of for most clubs and particularly Newcastle United, as down the years the Magpies have had a relatively strong record at St James Park but been poor travellers.

In total, these are the stats since Rafa Benitez and his team kicked off the 2016/17 season:

Home

Played  51 Won 25 Drawn 7 Lost 19 Goals For 77 Goals Against 55

Away

Played 49 Won 19 Drawn 12 Lost 18 Goals For 61 Goals Against 60

Newcastle have won a few more (six) in that time at home but have drawn (five) less.

Breaking it down by season you have:

Home (2016/17)

Played  23 Won 15 Drawn 3 Lost 5 Goals For 49 Goals Against 23

Away (2016/17)

Played  23 Won 14 Drawn 4 Lost 5 Goals For 36 Goals Against 17

Home (2017/18)

Played  19 Won 8 Drawn 4 Lost 7 Goals For 21 Goals Against 17

Away (2017/18)

Played  19 Won 4 Drawn 4 Lost 11 Goals For 18 Goals Against 30

Home (2018/19)

Played  9 Won 2 Drawn 0 Lost 7 Goals For 7 Goals Against 15

Away (2018/19)

Played  7 Won 1 Drawn 4 Lost 2 Goals For 7 Goals Against 13

Is this a case of Rafa Benitez overperforming away from home, underperforming at St James Park, a bit of both, or neither?

I think it might be best to take the Championship season separate to the Premier League stats.

When in the second tier, Newcastle had an almost identical record, W15 D3 L5 at home and W14 D4 L5 away.

There was a feeling from some fans at the time that Rafa Benitez could maybe have been more attacking in the Championship, especially at home. However, he had a formation with Gayle the single striker with Perez or Diame behind him as an attacking/extra midfielder that he stuck with pretty much all season and of course it was a rigid formula that got the job done.

Could promotion have been achieved with more style, considering the better players/squad Newcastle had? Maybe, maybe not, but nobody could claim it wasn’t successful overall.

As for this last year and a half in the Premier League, Rafa does vary his tactics a little bit more, in terms of trying to open a little but more at home sometimes, whereas away from home, the onus is always on a solid defence and hopefully a clean sheet first.

Maybe this in part accounts for the relatively disappointing home record. Newcastle trying to open up a bit more at home but being punished because they don’t really have the quality of player to do it.

Whether home or away, it is very rare for Newcastle to lose by more than a single goal, just think of all those matches and indeed the draws, wheres if Newcastle had had a real quality goalscorer and number 10, how many could have been converted into draws/wins.

The signings of players such as Fernandez, Lejeune and Dubravka points to the fact that it is still possible to sign very good players at the back for not a lot of money.

However, at the other end of the pitch it is far far harder, players with creative and/or goalscoring ability are far easier to spot and everybody wants to sign them. With Mike Ashley putting the block on any kind of realistic money being spent in the attacking positions, we end up with the likes of Joselu and others, plus the manager forced to bring in loan players to try and bring in better quality in the short-term and attempt to stave off disaster.
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