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Opinion

Serious issues to sort out with the goals challenges facing Newcastle United

1 month ago
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For Newcastle United the ugly subject of goals is once again at the forefront of our thoughts.

Or at least it should be.

Newcastle United have had a lot of problems scoring goals and also serious issues when it has come to conceding them.

Not a great combination.

Only a distant Premier League memory when Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle United scored 82 in 1993/94 (a 42 game season), or 74 PL goals under Sir Bobby in 2001/02.

With only three weeks until the Newcastle United squad are back (Monday 5 July) to start pre-season preparations, goals issues need sorting at both ends of the pitch.

Newcastle United scored a slightly improved 46 PL goals in 2020/21 but Wilson and Willock scored 20 of those between them and with two own goals, the entire rest of the NUFC squad only managed 24 between them. Then at the other end of the pitch only two PL clubs outside the bottom two conceded more than the serious 62 goals total Newcastle racked up.

Here is an overview of  the top Premier League goalscorers for Newcastle United since promotion in 2010 and number of PL goals scored and conceded by NUFC in total each season, plus season end goal difference:

2010/11 – 56 goals (57 conceded) Goal difference -1

12 Nolan, 11 Carroll, 6 Best, 6 Shola, 6 Lovenkrands, 4 Barton

2011/12 – 56 goals (51 conceded) Goal difference +5

16 Ba, 13 Cisse, 5 Ben Arfa, 4 Best, 4 Cabaye

2012/13 – 45 goals (68 conceded) Goal difference -23

13 Ba, 8 Cisse, 6 Cabaye, 4 Ben Arfa

2013/14 – 43 goals (59 conceded) Goal Difference -16

14 Remy, 7 Cabaye, 6 Gouffran

2014/15 – 40 goals (63 conceded) Goal difference -23

11 Cisse, 7 Perez, 4 Colback, 4 Sissoko

2015/16 – 44 goals (65 conceded) Goal difference -21

11 Wijnaldum, 9 Mitrovic, 6 Perez, 4 Townsend

2017/18 – 39 goals (47 conceded) Goal difference -8

8 Perez, 6 Gayle, 4 Joselu

2018/19 – 42 goals (48 conceded) Goal difference -6

12 Perez, 11 Rondon, 4 Schar

2019/20 – 38 goals (58 conceded) Goal difference -20

6 Shelvey, 4 Gayle, 4 Almiron

2020/21 – 46 goals (62 conceded) Goal difference -16

12 Wilson, 8 Willock, 4 Almiron, 4 Joelinton

I know it is very much stating the obvious but Premier League clubs have to be either pretty good at either scoring goals, or not conceding them, or a little bit of a mixture of the two.

Under Rafa Benitez, it is very obvious where the biggest strength was, only 42 and 48 goals conceded in his two PL seasons, although there were very promising signings late in the 2018/19 season when it came to scoring goals as well. Almiron signing gave Rafa that extra bit of pace and really set alight the attacking trio with Rondon and Perez, the final 16 PL games of that 2018/19 season saw NUFC score 26 goals – only four PL clubs scoring more in the final 16 games.

As for Steve Bruce, difficult really to see any real strengths at either end when it comes to goals.

Despite having the same defenders Rafa had, plus the likes of £15m Jamal Lewis added, Bruce has turned Newcastle’s ability to defend into one of the very worst in the Premier League. A massive 120 goals conceded in his 76 PL games in charge, compared to Rafa’s 95 conceded in his final 76 PL NUFC matches.

Only six PL clubs conceded less than Newcastle in each of the two Benitez seasons, whilst this past season under Steve Bruce only four conceded more than NUFC.

At the other end of the pitch, a feeble 38 goals scored after the disastrous move by Bruce and Ashley, to bring in Joelinton and Carroll to replace Rondon and Perez. The new duo scoring two PL goals between them in 2019/20, compared to 23 from Rondon and Perez in 2018/19.

This season looked very much to be going the same way, despite Callum Wilson scoring 12. That was until Joe Willock came in and remarkable scored eight goals from only seventeen shots. In total, Wilson and Willock scoring 20 goals between them from a combined 66 shots / chances.

Under Rafa Benitez the goal differences of -6 and -8 point to the fact that relegation was never going to happen.

However, under Steve Bruce the goal differences of -20 and -16 point to a team that could easily end up in serious difficulties.

As things stand, Newcastle United are totally reliant on one goalscorer in Callum Wilson, staying fit and scoring goals from very few chances. Whilst at the other end of the pitch, Bruce appears helpless to stop the conceding of so many goals.

If these issues aren’t addressed in the transfer market, or by getting a better manager / head coach in, then a 2021/22 season of struggle looks all but guaranteed.

Fulham got relegated with a -26 goal difference last season but were well adrift, the 2019/20 season it was Bournemouth going down with a goal difference of -25.

Once you are getting into the territory of conceding 20+ more goals than you are scoring, you are definitely in danger of ending up relegated.

Less than nine weeks now until the 2021/22 Premier League season kicks off and so much work to do at Newcastle United…

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