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Opinion

Newcastle United aren’t very bad, they just aren’t very good and are lacking…

4 weeks ago
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How good are Newcastle United?

Or equally, how bad are Newcastle United?

Bottom line is what level of quality is this NUFC squad compared to the other 19 in the Premier League?

I feel the whole thing was distorted with the previous manager (yes I know it is only a head coach now…).

It is a tendency for Newcastle fans, just like all football fans, to think your players are better than they really are.

You big up their better points and minimise their weaknesses.

I think it is fair to say that Rafa Benitez made a lot of our players look better than they really are.

His ability and experience moulded them into a team that was far better than the individual parts.

Premier League finishes of 10th and 13th, both times 11 points clear of relegation, meant that the media and many Newcastle fans believed the players were far better than they are.

Ironically, Rafa’s relative success was then repeatedly used against him.

When he time after time said that proper investment was needed in the team/squad, the reaction of many was ‘What’s Rafa talking about, he’s already got a mid-table squad, no need for major investment.’

Crazy, isn’t it. Your own (relative) success being used against you to justify not getting proper support in the transfer market.

I think the bottom line with this current squad is that Newcastle United aren’t very bad, they just aren’t very good and are lacking goals.

A Premier League team short of goals in in reality a one that has serious problems.

Overall, I would say this Newcastle squad is no better or worse than maybe four or five others.

The problem is that for many people, particularly Newcastle fans and media, they would be placing our squad as being on a similar level to four or five squads that will be finishing mid-table.

Reality is though that this NUFC squad is on a par with the four or five who will almost certainly finish bottom six, with Newcastle.

As for individuals, I would say Martin Dubravka is definitely a good quality keeper, only conceding 67 goals in 55 PL games playing for a team constantly battling relegation, is some going.

Elsewhere though, I think we do get carried away.

Lascelles and Schar are decent players but I think playing in a defensive team, especially in a back five, has made them look a lot better to many people than they really are.

If Newcastle played attacking football with a back four, Lascelles’ lack of pace would be totally exposed with opposition players having space to run at him, the same with his poor ability on the ball. In a back five that doesn’t get tested half as much.

As for Fabian Schar, he has got ability but in a back four he wouldn’t look as good. He isn’t the best defender (Lejeune is easily that I think, when fit) and the back five system allows him more freedom to get forward which is his biggest strength.

I think when people wonder why the better clubs haven’t come in for the likes of Lascelles and Schar, the reasons are above.

With Isaac Hayden, I think it is a similar story although maybe he does have more scope than the two defenders. Hayden has been good for Newcastle, once again though in a defensive formation which can only help a defensive midfielder. He has been Newcastle’s best midfielder but is he really as good as many people make out? Very rarely carries the ball, rarely shoots never mind scores, very rarely involved in moves to set up goals, little creativity and so on. This doesn’t make him a bad player, it just means that many people have unrealistic expectations.

It is up front though where Newcastle are seriously lacking, especially in terms of being able to score goals.

I think Joelinton looks a decent player but is he a regular goalscorer?

In Mike Ashley’s chaotic way of running the club, it appears that £40m has been spent on our main goal hope and instead, he is actually a player who prefers to do most of his work outside the box, away from goal…

I think he will get goals, just not enough.

I look at the other clubs likely to be competing for the relegation places and I see no teams with less goals in them.

Is it really a massive surprise that Pukki is scoring goals? It may be a surprise he has as many as six already but surely you would have thought he had a very good chance anyway.

He was top scorer in the Championship last season with 29 goals in 43 games, then the previous two seasons he scored 37 in 63 league games in Denmark.

In contrast, Joelinton’s best season of his career so far was eight in Austria.

That is who we are relying on to be our main goalscorer.

As I said, he does look a decent player but you do have to wonder what it was all about, Mike Ashley suddenly desperate to spend £40m on this one player???

If Joelinton had cost say £10m, then I do think the media would have taken a lot more critical look at what was happening at St James Park. Instead it was ‘Newcastle United have signed a £40m goalscorer, what have their fans got to moan about now???’

There was no real analysis of what Joelinton had actually achieved so far to justify the price tag, it was just all about the price tag.

So Newcastle are now relying on their goals to come from Joelinton (best ever season 8 goals in Austria), Miguel Almiron (yet to score in 9 months in England and rarely scored in the past apart from two years in MLS), Dwight Gayle (best PL season scoring 7 for Crystal Palace) and Andy Carroll (difficult to even get him on the pitch and hasn’t managed double figures in a league season since leaving Newcastle the first time).

This is what you end up with when you get rid of a top class manager and employ a head coach who then has no say on which players to sign, with faceless people making those decisions.

It isn’t impossible that Newcastle will stay up but they don’t have a better squad than their competitors and have less goals in their team than rivals, it is going to be tough.

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