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Opinion

Steve Bruce Newcastle United reign perfectly shown – A picture is worth a thousand words

3 weeks ago
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How has Steve Bruce done?

The Newcastle United Head Coach has been at St James Park for 16 months and overseen 46 Premier League matches.

Steve Bruce claims he is doing a great job, Newcastle United fans not so sure…

The Head Coach pointing to a 13th place finish and 44 points last season, as well as eleven points from eight PL games this time and once again sitting in 13th position.

Newcastle fans though point to the huge amounts of luck Steve Bruce has experienced, the outstanding contribution of Martin Dubravka and now Karl Darlow in somehow keeping the score down and / or winning undeserved points based on all the underlying stats.

Who is right?

Well, there is some pretty overwhelming evidence presented below, courtesy of The Athletic.

It comes from an excellent article they have published to show why Arsenal are struggling with their attacking threat.

It is all very interesting from a Gunners perspective BUT maybe even more so from a Newcastle United one…

This graphic shows the number of times on average that each Premier League team have possessions ending in the attacking third.

Here’s a clue, you would like your club to be as far to the right as possible.

Newcastle United are almost off the chart…to the left.

The pundits and loyal journalists constantly defend Steve Bruce and call the Newcastle United fans deluded, yet this picture doesn’t lie.

In the article in The Athletic, they declare: ‘The picture that begins to emerge is of a fundamentally risk-averse team, dallying on the ball in unthreatening areas.’

They are talking about Arsenal but the reality is that it is far worse than that for Newcastle United, without any of those other redeeming features that the Gunners might have.

The article also uses a second graphic, with this one you ideally want to see your club in the very top right, not bottom left…

So basically with this one, how high you are on the graphic depends on how many shots per game you have on average, then how far to the right depends on a combination of number of chances and especially the quality / difficulty of them.

As you can see, under Steve Bruce, Newcastle United are the very lowest when it comes to average shots per game. However, they have a few clubs worse off when it comes to xG per game. That is largely down to Callum Wilson’s six goals, three of them scored from the penalty spot with only the keeper to beat, the other three seeing the striker scoring from almost on the line in each case. It doesn’t make them bad / easy goals, a perfect example of instinct and right place right time, but it massively helps when it comes to this xG figure.

Newcastle United creating so few chances each match but six of the ten goals coming from penalties or shots from very close in.

When you look back at these eight Premier League matches so far, it is very difficult to remember many / any where the opposing goalkeeper has had to make a great save, Joelinton on Friday at Southampton maybe the only one with that header McCarthy saved. With only 10 efforts on target (including Joelinton’s) on top of the 10 goals, there isn’t exactly a lot to choose from!

The Athletic article describes Arsenal as ‘shot shy gunners’, I hate to think what would be the perfect description for the tactics and style of football we are watching under Steve Bruce this season…

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