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Opinion

The last 16 at Newcastle United for Rafa Benitez and Steve Bruce – A must see for media trolls

1 month ago
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Rafa Benitez wasn’t my ideal Newcastle United manager.

Having gone to matches since the 1970s, Kevin Keegan and then Sir Bobby Robson are the two who stand apart.

When it came to Rafa Benitez and Newcastle United, we never really got a chance to see what he could be capable of.

Agreeing a three year permanent contract, going from managing Real Madrid to Newcastle United in the Championship in a few brief months, the Spaniard was up for a long-term project.

Year one, took Newcastle United back up as champions.

Year two, minimal investment in the transfer market but stabilised in tenth in the Premier League.

Year three, Mike Ashley refused any net spending on players in summer 2018, actually insisting a £20m+ profit had to be made. Despite having to rely on loan deals and bargain buys, once again comfortably in mid-table in thirteenth.

Scratch the surface though and things were changing and on the up under Rafa Benitez in the final months of his time at St James Park, in terms of both results AND style of play.

The final 28 PL games of 2018/19 under Rafa saw Newcastle with the eighth best form in the Premier League.

However, it was when he was finally allowed one relatively ambitious signing in Miguel Almiron that things really were able to spark.

Signed on 31 January 2019, Almiron only managed nine PL starts that season due to injury but that was enough to help Rafa Benitez play a very different more attacking way in most of the remaining matches.

Indeed, this is the Premier League form of the final 16 games in that 2018/19 Premier League season:

As you can see, fifth highest number of points – 27 from 16 matches, but also fifth highest number of goals scored – 26 in 16.

Fast forward less than two years and this is the mess we now see under Steve Bruce.

Only two wins in the last eighteen games (all competitions) and twelve defeats, this below is the bottom ten Premier League clubs when it comes to form in their last 16 PL matches:

Burnley Won 5 Drawn 5 Lost 6 GF 14 GA 18 Points 20

Liverpool Won 5 Drawn 3 Lost 8 GF 18 GA 18 Points 18

Fulham Won 3 Drawn 9 Lost 4 GF 10 GA 11 Points 18

Wolves Won 4 Drawn 6 Lost 6 GF 17 GA 21 Points 18

Crystal Palace Won 4 Drawn 5 Lost 7 GF 12 GA 29 Points 17

Brighton Won 3 Drawn 7 Lost 6 GF 12 GA 17 Points 16

Sheffield United Won 4 Drawn 1 Lost 11 GF 11 GA 24 Points 13

Southampton Won 3 Drawn 4 Lost 9 GF 12 GA 26 Points 13

West Brom Won 2 Drawn 6 Lost 8 GF 11 GA 31 Points 12

Newcastle United Won 2 Drawn 4 Lost 10 GF 13 GA 28 Points 10

An absolute mess, this despite having the benefit of over £100m net investment in the Newcastle United squad during his first three transfer windows.

This is what you get with Steve Bruce.

What we would have got with a properly backed Rafa Benitez…who knows.

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