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Opinion

If you haven’t seen this coming at Newcastle United then you haven’t been watching very closely

10 months ago
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Newcastle United in crisis is hardly a new headline.

Indeed for much of the media they are still sticking to the story that everything is fine with Newcastle United, apart from now hitting a run of bad luck, especially with injuries.

Quite nauseating reading much of the media where it comes across like some old style Soviet government controlled propaganda.

A full St James Park, thanks to Mike Ashley’s generosity, watching Newcastle United run simply into bad luck, poor Steve Bruce so unlucky after he and his team had being so excellent for most of the first five months of the season.

The reality of course is somewhat different.

Of the seven wins in 22 games (11 defeats) we have seen so far, only West Ham away was a game where Newcastle were in anyway convincing and definitely deserved to win on balance of play and chances. Even that was only for 50 minutes, as after going 3-0 up Steve Bruce instantly ordered his players to fall back to the usual tactic of handing total control to the opposition, defend as deep as possible and pray they don’t take their chances. The Hammers scored twice and Bruce almost managed to throw the win away.

The rest of the time, the other six wins and indeed most of the draws, it has resembled watching somebody very drunk trying not to fall down. Stumbling along and time after time looking as though they are going to crash face first to the ground, instead somehow miraculously manage to stay upright, defying the laws of gravity.

Some people rubbish the expected goals stats which point to Newcastle United being at the very bottom of the Premier League based on balance of play and chances created in each match so far. These people want to believe this is yet another example of modern day stats obsession that doesn’t always match reality. Well, expected goals is simply an automised way that tells you which team in each game got into the best shooting positions and had the best chances, factoring in things like whether there were defenders in the way and so on.

The thing is, if the expected goals were a stand alone thing then fair enough BUT every other measurement tells you Newcastle United and Steve Bruce have been incredibly lucky to amass those 25 points and the luck was ALWAYS going to run out. They were results achieved with zero plan on scoring goals. Based on all out defence and hoping NUFC would score a goal from a couple of chances created, in three matches this season Newcastle haven’t had a single effort on target!

Newcastle create less chances than any other team, have less shots, have less corners, have less possession, get in the opposition half less, have a goalkeeper who has faced more shots on target than any other and so on and so on.

Only two teams have scored less goals than the feeble 20 Newcastle United have managed and indeed only five have conceded more than NUFC’s 33 in 21 games.

Newcastle have strikers who don’t score goals (defenders have scored 10 of the 20) and whilst they have a very good goalkeeper and defence, when the opposition are in total control and constantly attacking, goals are all but guaranteed to be conceded. Matches against teams such as Southampton, Palace, Brighton, Watford, Wolves and Bournemouth were won, or at least not lost, due overwhelmingly to Newcastle’s goal leading a charmed life and opposition players failing to score when they should have.

If you haven’t seen this coming at Newcastle United then you haven’t been watching very closely.

The defenders of Steve Bruce were out in force after Leicester, with chief apologist Luke Edwards at the forefront.

Already close to Bruce from his time at Sunderland, Edwards has said what a good appointment Steve Bruce was from the start, embarrassingly cherry picking highlights of Bruce’s 20+ year career such as one losing cup final and sneaking into the top half of the Premier League once or twice, as evidence he is anything other than a manager with an overall shocking PL record and who has never won anything. Spending most of the last decade in the Championship and only picked by Mike Ashley because he was so desperate and willing to take the job as a head coach with no say on anything apart from coaching and picking the team.

Luke Edwards of The Telegraph reacting via Twitter to criticism of Steve Bruce after losing to Leicester made it three defeats in a row for Newcastle United:

‘The world of NUFC Twitter, where every defeat is a catastrophe, context is irrelevant and people hark back to a golden era of football, where they never lost, always played well and didn’t lose players to injury (actually they didn’t, not like this anyway).

This time last week NUFC were ninth in the table and hadn’t lost at home since August. Eight days later they have lost three games in a row, squad is decimated by injuries but are still five points clear of bottom three. Apparently, though, this is all proof Bruce is hopeless.

They are having a bad run, the players looked exhausted against a Leicester team that will play in the Champions League next season. Everton have a better and bigger squad as do Manchester United. NUFC are going to lose games, they will have bad runs, play badly, it’s football.’

Luke Edwards makes out that everybody was happy when Newcastle United were ninth and it is now just anger/criticism because of these three defeats on the bounce (four in the last five games).

It is laughable because this is the absolute opposite of the reality.

Despite the wins this season, which we all want to see, the vast majority of Newcastle fans recognised that the actual performances were terrible, apart from the committed defending. Fans were repeatedly speaking out saying it was hilarious the points the team were picking up despite playing so poor and creating next to no chances.

Steve Bruce has undoubtedly contributed to the injury problem due to desperately poor management of the squad and not looking after players, it isn’t all just bad luck.

Luke Edwards criticises Newcastle fans for whom ‘context is irrelevant’…we all know the context, a shambles of a club where Mike Ashley gets rid of a top class manager and replaces him with a low level patsy, so he himself can choose signings such as £40m Joelinton, whilst at the same time refusing to allow any investment in the club’s long term future, whether that is the academy, St James Park, new training  complex and so on, which were exactly the things Rafa Benitez wanted to address, to build and progress the club year after year.

Instead we now have a club that has gone from being full ever week in the Championship only three seasons ago, to one in the Premier League where the owner is forced to give out 10.000 free season tickets to protect his retail advertising and yet only two games into the free season tickets, thousands stay away despite an attractive home match against second in the table.

The future is bright all right, the future is on fire and Mike Ashley is (figuratively) burning Newcastle United to the ground.

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