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Opinion

The vital statistics Steve Bruce doesn’t want people to see

2 weeks ago
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This morning (against my better judgement), I delved into this season’s Premier League statistics and got a bigger and bigger shock the more I looked at them.whosc

Let me be clear, I wasn’t expecting some revolutionary evidence that Newcastle United were actually playing better football than we all thought, we all know we aren’t.

However, the extent of how bad we are, can be ascertained by looking at the basics and there is no dressing it up…

No matter which way you look at it, they look shocking.

I used the official Premier League site as well as the more detailed Whoscored site and my findings were alarming.

Even basic stats can tell you an awful lot…the only problem with looking at statistics is that sometimes they offer grim reading.

Starting at the back is where the worries begin.

We have Karl Darlow excelling himself at the top of the Premier League charts with most saves, most punches and second best for high balls claimed. No surprises that we’re second bottom for clean sheets then with all that pressure to contend with.

Along with Darlow, the defence in front of him is similarly working overtime.

Newcastle are top for the most blocks made, second for the most clearances, with only Sheffield United worse off. Federico Fernandez is coming out as our most prized outfield player with him being way out in front for the whole league in terms of individual blocks. Oh and Jamaal Lascelles is joint second. These two feature highly in individual player clearances with Federico being top man once again.

Weirdly, nobody features high up in interceptions or tackles meaning that the instructions must simply be to block whatever comes at you and lump it away as quickly as possible. Don’t believe me? Guess which team is second top for long passes behind Burnley?

Speaking of passes, we feature 16th in the amount of passes we make and are 19th for the amount of through balls attempted. Bearing in mind we seldom get enough players that far up the pitch, that stat doesn’t surprise me.

On that, Whoscored has us as the side that ventures into the opposing area the least (22%) in the league and we are at the top for most time (30%) back in our own penalty area. The same site has us top of the tree for shots faced per game with a whopping 16.5 on average. Somebody give Karl Darlow a new contract.

On the offensive, Whoscored also show we are bottom for fewest shots (8 per game), 2nd bottom for shots on target (2.5 per game). When your defence and goalkeeper are having to fend off double the amount of shots that your attack is producing, it’s hard to see how you’re going to win many / any games.

With that in mind, it is hardly surprising that the players with the most touches of the ball at Newcastle United are Federico Fernandez, Jamal Lewis and Jamaal Lascelles. I assume they are passing to each other.

This hoofball approach undermines everything that Steve Bruce says with regards to a “work in progress” or trying to “change” the way we play. To anyone that says the Rafa Benitez brand of football was hard to watch (and it was), these stats show that things are even worse under Steve Bruce.

For the record, in 2018/19 we averaged 11.7 shots and 3.7 of them were on target, defensively we restricted the opposition to 12.9 shots per game. WE spent roughly the same amount of time in the opposing area that season but we clearly did more with the ball than we are currently seeing.

No matter how much you want to defend the current Head Coach, add into the equation that a net £100m+ worth of players has been afforded to this charlatan, then I would ask the questions…

How much time and money does he need and where will we be when he decides he has put enough of his ideas and style into the team?

His “style” is undecipherable and hotch potch, the football unwatchable and the results are sketchy at best.

In these same eight fixtures last season we picked up four points more, so where is there even remote evidence of any progress unless it’s backwards? And we haven’t even hit Christmas yet.

At this point, I would hope Steve Bruce would see these stats and be suitably alarmed. They say the table doesn’t lie? It does, oh boy it does.

Judging by his history in management, having the wherewithal and the tactical nous to change all these negative stats will likely remain elusive…

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