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Killer stats – The change from Rafa Benitez to Steve Bruce (***For use against pundits)

5 months ago

Steve Bruce is no different to Rafa Benitez, what’s the problem?

That is the kind of statement you typically have thrown at you as a Newcastle United fan, if you question the NUFC Head Coach’s contribution at St James Park.

Pundits, journalists, ‘experts’, rival fans baiting Newcastle supporters, but are they right?

Is life under Steve Bruce really no different than under Rafa Benitez.

We all know that Rafa was starved of any kind of realistic backing in the transfer market, yet Steve Bruce has been allowed a £100m+ net spend in his 16 months.

However, if you ignore that element, are Newcastle fans wrong and the Brucey pundits and journalists correct?

Well below, you will find some real killer stats.

They compare the performance of Newcastle United under Rafa Benitez in his final 2018/19 season, to that of Steve Bruce’s NUFC team this (2020/21) season.

Eight different key stats compared in the top half of the stats, then in the bottom half we see where the stats then place Newcastle United compared to the rest of the Premier League in 2018/19 and then 2020/21.

Our thanks for the table below to NUFC Substack, the table showing the performance of Steve Bruce this (2020/21) season, compared to Rafa Benitez in 2018/19:

As you can see, a wealth of information and insight to take from these stats.

In the top half of the stats, in all eight areas the situation is worse under Steve Bruce than it was under Rafa Benitez in his final season, this despite Bruce having that £100m+ net spend.

Less shots, less goals, less tackles and interceptions, backing up the arguments of Newcastle fans that things are far far worse under Steve Bruce.

It arguably gets even more interesting when you get to the bottom half of the stats, showing how Rafa’s and Brucey’s teams compare to the other 19 clubs making up the Premier League.

This season Steve Bruce’s team is the worst of all 20 for overall shots, shots on target and conceding shots, whilst only three clubs make less tackles and interceptions, pointing even more to the fact that for Bruce it is simply a case of the whole team defending so deep with no intent to try and win possession back.

Whereas, with Rafa in that 2018/19 season, Newcastle won the fourth most tackles and made the fourth most interceptions, as they did step out and try and win back possession a lot of the time, pressure the opposition when they could.

Nobody pretends life was perfect in 2018/19 but we understood that trying to do much more than what Benitez did, was very difficult on a tight budget. Rafa Benitez was eventually allowed to buy Almiron, the first relatively ambitious signing he was allowed to make after the return to the Premier League, but Rafa only had nine starts from the Paraguayan before he left.

That season, Rafa’s team had the 13th most shots and the 11th most goals from open play, shots conceded was 13th as well.

These stats I think back up a belief that Newcastle deserved to be around that lower mid-table position, whereas in contrast there is a belief amongst fans that the underlying stats this season point very much to NUFC badly struggling unless things change.

If you have are worst for shots, shots on target and shots conceded, that 100% tells you that you will have big problems.

Massive luck last season for Steve Bruce and this season he has also ridden that luck, but even his best mates in the media and in football, can’t argue with these stats laid out above.


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