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The progress on Steve Bruce 10th place target now analysed: Telling results

1 year ago

This 2020/21 season’s 12th place finish was the best since Rafa got Newcastle United to 10th in 2017/18.

In a year where football was played without fans in attendance, the league experienced a lot of variability, and multiple stereotypes were shaken, if not broken.

At first glance, our final position after matchday 38 this year, seems comparable with those of the last three years (10th, 13th, 13th, 12th). This would make it seem like pandemic football had little or no effect on us, at least in terms of league position.

Indeed, we closed the year with an identical games record (Wins, draws and losses) to what we had some two years ago with fans in attendance.

However, the Win, Draw, Loss record is a comparison of ourselves, sort of like looking in the mirror. While that is a good means of self-assessment, it is also pertinent that we compare our performances with those teams above us in the league.

The idea is to see by how much we have actually advanced closer to the top seven where I, unlike Steve Bruce, believe we should aim to be.

In drawing this comparison, I decided to assess the worth of our points tally over the past four seasons.

As we all know, 35 points can be good enough for survival in one year but not in another, and 80 points can win the premier league in one year but only enough for third in another, etc.

Here are the figures:


Season – NUFC PTS total – points from top 7 (from top 10)

2017/18 – 44PTS – 10 (0)

2018/19 – 45PTS – 12 (7)

2019/20 – 44PTS – 15 (10)

2020/21 – 45PTS – 17 (14)

This shows a steady decline, which began in Rafa’s final year, and it has only worsened since he left.

I can imagine a statistic like this must have caused Rafa concern back in 2019, to have finished a point better than in 2018, yet be further away from the target of qualifying for Europe.

Such evidence must have contributed towards his demands for increased investment.

Increased investment did follow, only it came after Benitez had left the club.

That investment fell to Steve Bruce, who has now failed to find a remedy to that decline in the most open Premier League in over 10 years.

I would find it hard to believe that the man has any knowledge of this statistic as he is too busy growing thick skin and celebrating himself for matching the mighty Rafa (a notion which this statistic has yet again proven wrong). He has fallen short of making top 10 and we are now twice as far from that target than we were before his arrival, his own well self-publicised target.

Just to put into context how bad our season was in case you are still in denial…

It is worth noting that West Ham, Aston Villa and Leeds United (16th, 17th and Championship in 2019/20 season) all finished above us in the top 10, having taken advantage of the weaknesses available this season. None of those teams have a manager who has won titles in English top flight either, and the other two aside from Villa, have spent less than Newcastle over the past two transfer windows.

While there was plenty of relief about escaping relegation, we are slipping further away from where our aim should be.

Newcastle United are now stuck with an inept manager in Steve Bruce and the owner has again been seemingly justified for funding transfers over just two windows in two years. Mike would now likely shut his pockets again for another three.

While I do demand a team that tries, I definitely demand a club that aims for Europe. I refuse to be satisfied with looking forward to mid-table mediocrity every year.

I used to be satisfied with just aiming for security each season and that coincided with a period when I was apologetic towards Mike Ashley.

Praise God those days are now well behind me. I will not be satisfied with Steve Bruce in the dugout and I hope you also will be persuaded to step up your ambitions as you read this. In the words of Tom Hardy (from the movie Inception, 2010): “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.”


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