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Opinion

Newcastle fans need to get angry and passionate for change after Leicester 5 Newcastle 0 – Final proof

2 months ago
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Rafa Benitez never once conceded five goals while in charge of Newcastle. Steve Bruce has done it after a few weeks in charge.

Since the season started, quite a number of Newcastle fans have been using the argument that the team had a bad start last season as evidence that Bruce has been doing okay in his brief time in charge of Newcastle United. Some even argued he was doing better than Rafa.

I never bought that argument.

For me, performances under Rafa were better than results in a way that has never yet been true under Bruce. But even if I had been subscribing to that view, the bubble surely burst today.

A brief comparison of Rafa’s performance in the equivalent fixtures to those we’ve played this season starts to illustrate the marginal gains that he gave us. So far, we’ve played:

Leicester (A)

Brighton (H)

Liverpool (A)

Watford (H)

Tottenham (A)

Norwich (A)

Arsenal (H)

From those fixtures, Bruce has managed five points and a goal difference of -9.

In the same fixtures under Rafa – [swapping Norwich (A) for Cardiff (A), since Norwich finished 1st in the Championship, and Cardiff finished 18th in the Premier League] – we did a little bit better, achieve 7 points and a goal difference of -5.

Some fans will shriek at the last paragraph, arguing that two more points and four more goals seems petty, insignificant, not worth kicking up a fuss about. But that argument is missing the point because it ignores the fine margins that can be the difference between staying up and going down.

And here’s an even more damning statistic. Under Bruce so far, we’ve conceded 2.6 goals a game; under Rafa last season, it was 1.2. And that drastic, damning shift hasn’t been compensated for by goals scored either.

So what is my overarching point?

That the football is worse? No.

That we’re less solid defensively? No.

That we’re scoring fewer goals? No.

That we’ll definitely be relegated this season? No.

Though all of those things, I believe, sadly, are true.

My point is simply that the deterioration on the pitch from this season compared to last is obvious, catastrophic and painful, and that it is made more so by the fact that it was all so avoidable.

I could cry – and have cried – when I think about how close we were to progress, and how avoidably that has been totally wasted.

To be clear, I don’t think Steve Bruce is in any way responsible. In his position, I’d have taken the job too. I just think he’s less good than the man we had in charge before and that his lack of quality is starting to show. I really can’t understand those fans who can’t see that difference and who aren’t outraged by the fact that it’s been allowed to happen.

Why isn’t more blood boiling over the decision making that led us to this place?

I’ve kept my powder dry after giving up my season ticket of 27 years this summer. It hurt to do so, but I’d signed the #IfRafaGoesWeGo petition last season and I like to stay true to my word.

(As I side note – I sincerely hope that every single person who signed that petition has since given up their season ticket too. Otherwise, what was the point, exactly?)

I haven’t posted on Facebook or written an article in The Mag about that decision until now. To my mind, if people wanted to turn up and support the team, I could understand their point of view. And I knew it was futile to try and change it over Facebook! After all, cancelling my season ticket was hard, painful; why should I expect others to feel differently or to have followed suit?

But today was a watershed moment for me. A moment where concrete evidence that Bruce is doing measurably less well than Rafa emerged.

And it makes me feel vindicated even while it makes me feel immeasurably sad.

God almighty, how close we were to progress. God almighty, how close we are to disaster.

God almighty, how I wish all Newcastle fans would see that fact and rally noisily, aggressively, passionately behind the calls for change.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Leicester 5 Newcastle 0  – Sunday 29  September 4.30pm

Goals:

Leicester:

Pereira 16, Vardy 54 and 64, Dummett OG 57, Ndidi 90

Possession was Leicester 69% Newcastle 31%

Total shots were Leicester 13 Newcastle 3

Shots on target were Leicester 5 Newcastle 0

Corners were Leicester 9 Newcastle 0

Referee: Craig Pawson

Newcastle team v Leicester:

Dubravka, Krafth, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Atsu, Hayden (Sent off 43), Longstaff, Almiron (Yedlin 74), Muto (Ki 46), Joelinton (Carroll 63)

Unused Subs

Darlow, Saint-Maximin, Manquillo, Fernandez

Crowd: 32,168 (2,650 NUFC – Newcastle United refused to take the full 3,305 away allocation)

(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the five goal humiliation – Read HERE)

(Steve Bruce has to go after this shambles – Read HERE)

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