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Opinion

17 reasons why Fulham and not Newcastle United were relegated

1 month ago
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Fulham v Newcastle United on Sunday 23 May 2021 had long been billed as judgement day.

It was written in the stars that Steve Bruce and his team would travel to Craven Cottage on the final day of the season to face former NUFC old boys Mitro and Scott Parker, with the result deciding which club stayed up, which went down.

It was a Sky Sports script long written (and dreamt of by them), the chance to show live and exclusive a possible third Mike Ashley relegation in Newcastle United’s last eleven Premier League seasons.

However, that dream came crashing down, live and exclusive on Sky Sports, when on Monday night Fulham slid meekly out of the Premier League, joining West Brom and Sheffield United in the second tier.

Rather than the much billed final judgement day bang, Fulham went down with no more than a whimper two nights ago.

It was a snapshot of their season, lots of attractive football / passing moves, loads of possession (68% to Burnley’s 32%), lots of shots (21 to Burnley’s 14), plenty corners (8 to Burnley’s 4), not many (zero to Burnley’s two) goals.

Fulham picked up only one point in their final seven games that finally decided their relegation, most tellingly perhaps, they scored only one goal in their most recent seven hours of PL football.

This is how the Premier League table now looks on Wednesday morning:

As you can see, Fulham now left with an end of season fight for 18th or 19th, Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United thankfully set for a likely 16th or 17th fight with Brighton, rather than a relegation decider with Scott Parker’s team.

As you can also see, only Sheffield United (18) scored less than the paltry 25 goals Fulham managed, not difficult to see where their main problem was. When it came to conceding goals a semi-respectable 47 (Fulham conceded 81(!) when relegated in 2018/19), which is currently 11 less than Newcastle.

Fulham, full of nice play all around the pitch much of the time but when the ball has gone into the box, the finishing has been woeful.

These are the Fulham top PL scorers with three games to go:

5 Decordova-Reid

4 Lookman

3 Cavaleiro

2 Mitrovic

2 Maja

2 Aina

Fulham fans must be wondering just how their players scored so few goals from so many chances / shots.

For me, there are 17 big reasons why Fulham and not Newcastle United were relegated.

Newcastle’s goal total of 40 is not exactly brilliant, only four clubs outside the bottom three have scored less.

However, the picture at NUFC is the exact opposite of the Fulham one.

The ultra negative football employed by Steve Bruce for the vast majority of the season, meaning so few chances have been created for attacking players.

Almiron has scored four PL goals, Joelinton and ASM three each, the rest no more than two each.

That is apart from two stand out exceptions.

Callum Wilson has scored 12 goals from only 40 shots (BBC Sport stats) in the Premier League this season.

On loan with Newcastle, Joe Willock has scored his 5 goals from only 10 shots (fbref stats).

It is quite incredible really, almost half of Newcastle’s goals, 17 scored from this pair from only 50 shots!

It isn’t difficult to imagine the very different scenario that could now be facing Newcastle, if it was Fulham and not NUFC who’d had a couple of finishers.

Small margins.

It is quite amazing the luck that has come Steve Bruce’s way, when you consider he decided to refuse to play one of the only two natural finishers at the club for seven weeks. Joe Willock making seven starts in his first six weeks at NUFC, then made a scapegoat after the 0-3 at Brighton whilst the likes of Joelinton stayed in the side – Willock a very late sub saving Bruce’s bacon in that 2-2 against Tottenham.

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