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Opinion

The single picture that tells the story of this Newcastle United season

2 months ago
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A very strange Newcastle United season this one.

It is saying something for any particular season to be described as strange when you support this football club…but that is the case in 2019/20.

Mike Ashley having done his work last summer once again, creating chaos and unrest.

Forcing out manager Rafa Benitez so he could return to his preferred model  of a head coach with no say on important decisions such as transfers in and out, simply there to coach and manage the team.

The NUFC owner then able to implement his transfer policy/agenda after Rafa Benitez had thwarted him.

Rafa having refused to go along with Ashley’s insistence that the vast majority of this season’s transfer budget had to be spent on one player – Brazilian striker Joelinton, whose best ever league season had been eight goals in the weak Austrian domestic league.

So £40m (Mike Ashley insists it was £43m) went on Joelinton, who now has one Premier League goal with two thirds of the season gone.

Indeed the entire set of strikers that Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce settled on for this season – Joelinton, Muto, Gayle and Carroll – have only that single PL goal between them.

So strikers not scoring (instead relying on defenders scoring 12 of the 24 PL goals from minimal chances) and Martin Dubravka having had to make more saves than any other keeper in the league.

Our own eyes tell us that it has been a real struggle and pure luck that Newcastle are somehow 12th and seven points clear of relegation.

This is a great image courtesy of football analyst Ben Mayhew (@experimental361), summing up the story of Newcastle’s season in a single image…

Some people are dismissive of the expected goals stats and/or fail to understand them but I think this image brings  it all together.

Rather than simply how many shots your club and the opposition have in any game, the expected goals technology examines every chance created and how good a chance it was – the distance, angle, where defenders are (if any).

So as you can see above, on chances created and conceded in games this season, Newcastle have been the worst going forward AND when defending. Yes all teams need luck and it tends to balance itself out but not for NUFC so far this season, the stats are overwhelming in showing how lucky Steve Bruce has been.

I would hate to think what these final 13 PL matches would be like if indeed the luck did even itself out this season.

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