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Opinion

Newcastle United scoring problem sees blame directed at Rafa Benitez for selling 53 goal strikers

8 months ago
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An interesting twist has seen the finger of blame for Newcastle’s current ongoing lack of goals, pointed at Rafa Benitez.

Journalists (and some fans) blaming  Rafa for selling strikers who are scoring for fun this season.

In a 10 period in 2018, Rafa Benitez sold three Newcastle United strikers and brought in Salomon Rondon on loan, Mike Ashley having blocked any bid to buy the Venezuelan striker.

The three strikers who left the club were Aleksandar Mitrovic, Ivan Toney and Adam Armstrong.

Mitro has got 21 goals already for Fulham this season, Ivan Toney 23 for Peterborough, whilst Adam Armstrong has nine at Blackburn.

A total of 53 league goals this season between the trio.

A bit more productive than the one Premier League goal that Gayle, Carroll, Joelinton and Muto have scored between them this season for Newcastle.

So is the criticism of Rafa Benitez for his transfer decisions in July/August 2018 valid?

Well in these past 18 months or so, what have we learnt about the three strikers who left NUFC?

Adam Armstrong

Now 23, always looked a great finisher at youth level and for England in the younger age groups but in his small amount of first team chances at Newcastle, never convinced he was capable of working those scoring  opportunities at the top level.

He had shown he could score for fun in League One when scoring 20 on loan at Coventry and is now gradually proving he can do it in the  Championship. Five goals in 44 second tier appearances, Armstrong now has nine in 32 so far this season.

I get the feeling that he will have a very good career in the Championship but the Premier League is probably a step too far.

Ivan Toney

Turns 24 next month (March 2020) and is prolific this season.

His 23 goals in 31 goals the biggest reason why Peterborough are second in League One.

There has been talk of Premier League clubs interested but as things stand, Toney hasn’t even played (or scored goals) in the Championship, never mind in the Premier League (apart from 10 minutes of sub appearances when at NUFC).

A long list of strikers have scored for fun in League One but not been able to do it in the Championship, an even longer list of League One goalscorers never succeeding in the Premier League.

Loads of promise from Ivan Toney but still all to prove in higher leagues.

Alekandar Mitrovic

We all know the Mitro arguments and he has shown he can score for fun in the Championship (21 in 29 games this season).

However, the facts are that he has scored nine and eleven goals in his two Premier League seasons, though playing for clubs that got relegated. On the one hand you could say what could he do if playing for a better top tier team but on the other hand, also ask if Mitrovic as the main striker was a factor in relegation for Fulham and Newcastle?

The fact is though, Newcastle United’s goalscoring issues aren’t about what happened in summer 2018, they are all about what happened in summer 2019.

Salomon Rondon came in on loan and scored 11 PL goals last season and got seven assists (Mitro for Fulham got 11 goals and three assists).

Yet he and Ayoze Perez were allowed to leave and Mike Ashley chose to replace the 23 goals that Rondon and Perez got last season, with a striker who is never fit to play (Carroll currently out injured again and missing Arsenal) and a £40m one whose best ever league season was scoring eight in Austria.

The net result has been one goal between Carroll and Joelinton.

You can’t argue that Armstrong and/or Toney would have been the answer(s) this season and with the abysmal service and negative Steve Bruce tactics, whilst Mitro would surely have scored more than Joelinton and Carroll, he wouldn’t/couldn’t have made a serious difference in Bruce’s formation.

The blame for Newcastle United’s goalscoring problems doesn’t lie with Rafa Benitez, it rests with Mike Ashley’s ridiculous transfer strategy and Steve Bruce for being the willing stooge in going along with it.

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