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Opinion

If the media want to make selective comparisons between Steve Bruce and Rafa Benitez – Try this one

2 weeks ago
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Time and again this week I have seen repeated mentions of Steve Ashley and Rafa Benitez comparisons.

That comparison being that in the first 10 Premier League matches last season, Rafa Benitez only accumulated three points.

As compared to Steve Bruce being on nine points after 10 PL games so far.

We all know the massive obstacles Mike Ashley put in Rafa’s way in summer 2018 making that start to the season an absolute nightmare.

Suffice to say though, Rafa Benitez was forced to make a £20m+ profit in the summer 2018 window and the Spaniard was left with such scarce playing resources that Joselu featured in nine of those 10 opening  matches, Rondon was injured/unfit, whilst Kenedy had decided he didn’t really fancy playing for Newcastle on loan any more.

In contrast, Steve Bruce has the services of an £80m attacking trio who have all been recruited in 2019.

The media have been desperate to build up a picture of Steve Bruce taking over a near impossible job instead of doing any proper critical analysis of the head coach and the game so far.

That nine point total has only happened due to massive strokes of luck, opposition teams failing to punish Newcastle as Bruce’s team rarely have shots at goal, never mind scoring.

Before Jamaal Lascelles scored against Wolves in the 37th minute, Newcastle had scored only once in the previous eight hours of football. Whilst the last two away games haven’t seen a single NUFC corner or shot on goal.

Now though things are set to get interesting.

Obviously we all hope Newcastle win every match no matter who is manager (or head coach…) but the media’s slavish defence of Steve Bruce has been ridiculous.

Charlie Nicholas even saying on Thursday that Steve Bruce has done a ‘fabulous job’ at Newcastle.

If Steve Bruce keeps on with these dismal performances and form, there will be increasingly little for him to hide behind.

Particularly comparisons with Rafa Benitez..

If the media want to make selective comparisons between Steve Bruce and Rafa Benitez – Try this.

Just have a look at these two form tables (tables via Transfermarkt).

One covers results since the start of November 2018 (Rafa’s final 28 matches – which is the point Steve Bruce is at now with 10 games gone and 28 left) and the second one is from mid-January 2019 (Rafa’s final 16 games):

From matchday 11 (1-0 win over Watford) up to and including matchday 38 (4-0 win over Fulham):

premier league form table 2018/19 from match week 11

As you can see, that 28 match form guide tool in 75% of last season, only West Ham, outside of the top six, had better form over the last seven months of the season and as you can see, Newcastle were only seven points off Champions League form (Man Utd 49 points, Newcastle 42).

Even better – from matchday 23 (3-0 win over Cardiff) up to matchday 38 (4-0 win over Fulham):

premier league form table 2018/19 from match week 23

Startling stuff.

This latter Premier League form table covering the last four months of Rafa’s reign, shows Newcastle only one point outside the top four Champions League placings.

It also puts a lie to the lazy claims that Rafa Benitez will always play negative boring football. When he has the tools he will/can play a different way.

It was so encouraging that in those last 16 games, only four clubs scored more goals than the 26 Newcastle United scored.

Imagine what would have been possible if Rafa had been given decent money to spend in summer 2019 AND the freedom to go for whoever he wanted, when he wanted to?

Newcastle United were NOT a failing team with very little goal threat last season, instead they were a fast improving side with a manager who just needed some realistic backing.

It seems like a distant memory now, as we have yet another clown added as head coach, to go with Ashley, Barnes, Charnley and the rest.

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