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Opinion

‘My Newcastle United pre-season predictions are a bit of a mess…’

1 year ago
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Before the start of the season just after the fixtures were released, I sent in an article predicting where Newcastle United would pick up points  in the first part of this season.

I have had a look back and it’s interesting to see where I’ve predicted rightly and wrongly.

Now that we are facing our tenth Premier League opponent in Wolves at the weekend, I feel it’s a reasonable bookmark with which to judge where we are going this season.

These were my pre-season predictions:

Arsenal (h) L
Norwich (a) W
Tottenham (a) L
Watford (h) L
Liverpool (a) L
Brighton (h) W
Leicester (a) L
Manchester United (h) L
Chelsea (a) L
Wolves (h) D

Now for those of you that are sick of the negativity surrounding the club, there is a positive. As you can work out, we are already a point better off from what I predicted back in August before we play the 10th game.

We beat Spurs and Manchester United and we picked up a draw against Watford which I didn’t see happening. Sadly, that’s where the positivity ends. I didn’t expect us to get beat away at Norwich and I expected us to beat Brighton.

Normally, I wouldn’t be bothered exactly where points come from but sadly it’s crucial if you’re aiming for survival like Newcastle United do every year. Beating the Manchester Uniteds and the Tottenhams (home or away) are very nice but if you lose against the teams that are ‘in and around’ you, as Steve Bruce put it at the weekend, then you will be in dire trouble very quickly.

We would have been better off beating Brighton and Watford than Manchester United and Tottenham. Now before any nitpickers nit pick, I’m fully aware that you can’t cherry pick where your points come from.

The more alarming factor is how we’ve been playing this season so far.

Can you actually recall where we’ve bossed a game for more than ten minutes? Holding our own for a while against Arsenal and a spirited performance against the worst Manchester United side I’ve ever seen, is not filling me with confidence.

Similarly, the possession stats are averaging under 32%, in the win against Spurs it was as low as 20%. If that doesn’t sound a few alarm bells then I don’t know what will.

If we were peppering the opposition goal with shot after shot I’d have a bit more faith in picking up points but sadly, this most definitely isn’t the case. Worryingly, twice now this season we have failed to register a shot on target (Leicester and Chelsea) and against Liverpool we only had one.

I’m not sure what the solution is, short of actually going out in a transfer window and signing a decent goal scorer, like the one we had with Salomon Rondon…but what I do know is that persisting with Joelinton up front on his jack and sitting the side ultra deep like Steve Bruce does, won’t cut it when we are deep in the relegation mire.

Joelinton is currently proving that he isn’t a Premier League striker (I personally doubt he’s a striker) and Dwight Gayle isn’t a good enough one either. Andy Carroll IS – but is made of glass – and is never fully fit.

To contradict myself massively, I’d suggest starting Joelinton AND Gayle at the weekend against Wolves with a view to partnering Gayle and Carroll later on in the game. It’s not shocking to say that failure to beat Wolves (not just draw) would be a massive blow, especially considering that their side have incredibly had less shots this season than we have, 0-0 anyone?

The one to make way MUST be Miguel Almiron. Nothing against the lad but it’s not working and hasn’t looked like it since he lost Rondon as a focal point.

While the Wolves game is pivotal, the next three games afterwards are just as vital. I predicted defeat away at both West Ham and Aston Villa and a draw against Bournemouth at home and nothing I’ve seen so far is making me revise those predictions.

Scoring goals will be decisive in Newcastle United avoiding the drop this season and in our summer recruitment we have scandalously under prepared this club for the task.

Last season we had a cracking defence and a half decent attack when everyone was fit but now, even if everyone was fit, I still don’t have the confidence in both personnel and head coach to coax enough goals out of the team to stay up.

It’s going to be a long winter…

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