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Opinion

Two key problems identified at Newcastle United – Has either one got a solution?

3 weeks ago
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If I asked you what the problems were at Newcastle United, I’m pretty sure you could give me a length list.

However, when it comes down to on the pitch, the most important, I have narrowed it down to two key issues.

Newcastle United concede too many goals and don’t score enough at the other end.

I’m sure you will agree, these are fairly fundamental and worrying problems to have.

When it comes to the conceding of goals, it is quite remarkable what Steve Bruce has ‘achieved’ in this respect.

He inherited a backline that had conceded 47 and 48 goals in Rafa Benitez’ two Premier League seasons at Newcastle United.

With pretty much the same players and allowed investment such as £15m on Jamal Lewis, Steve Bruce has turned the situation into a total disaster, with 58 and 62 goals leaked in the last two Premier League seasons.

This season, it is 13 conceded in only five PL matches so far, which if it was an average carried throughout the season, would see 99 conceded in the 38 PL games. Not bad for a Head Coach who (no matter how hopeless I rate him as a manager / head coach) was an excellent central defender himself.

I would like to leave the defensive question alone now and concentrate on the other end of the pitch.

Are there enough goals in this Newcastle United squad.

Well for starters, here are the ten outfield players who started against Leeds and their career records of Premier League appearances (for all clubs) and number of goals (in brackets) scored.

204 (15) Ciaran Clark

153 (11) Matt Ritchie

58 (9) Joe Willock

56 (8) Allan Saint-Maximin

85 (8) Miguel Almiron

130 (8) Jamaal Lascelles

74 (6) Joelinton

108 (3) Isaac Hayden

59 (2) Sean Longstaff

105 (2) Javier Manquillo

Hmmm, the two with most career Premier League goals are a centre-back and a winger turned wing-back, both of them turned / turning 32 this month, so fair to say they don’t have big goalscoring runs ahead of them, not that they ever did so in their youth.

Third on the list above is Joe Willock.

He was never going to keep that goalscoring run of late last season up, especially when he scored his eight goals from only seventeen shots, but it is a worry the job that Steve Bruce has already done on him this season. Willock is putting plenty effort in and not doing too bad kind of, but at the same time, the way Bruce has set up has meant I don’t think the summer buy has even had a serious shot / chance, never mind scoring.

Miguel Almiron next with eight goals but once again, Steve Bruce’s tactics and team set up lead him to have so little chance up the top end, the 6 February was his last Premier League goal and difficult to see much improvement from the Paraguay whilst Bruce remains.

ASM is also on eight career Premier League goals (56 PL appearances) and in the absence of Callum Wilson, seems to now have taken over the role of being the sole hope of a goal in this Newcastle team.

Talking about Joelinton is just too depressing, his apologists claim any miniscule achievement as a triumph, whether winning headers, work in the middle of the pitch, keeping possession and so on. Bottom line is that he doesn’t score or create goals and that is before you then get to the fact he cost £40m+.

Newcastle United simply continue to accumulate more and more players who don’t score many goals, especially under Steve Bruce.

Are we missing anybody who is out injured when it comes to goals? Well apart from the obvious it doesn’t appear so…

Once again, total career PL appearances and in brackets the number of PL goals scored:

155 (55) Callum Wilson

137 (26) Dwight Gayle

244 (20) Jonjo Shelvey

142 (16) Ryan Fraser

145 (11) Jeff Hendrick

65 (4) Jacob Murphy

53 (1) Jamal Lewis

Dwight Gayle obviously isn’t injured but for whatever reason, Steve Bruce is refusing to play him, even as a sub. Despite the shocking form this season, not a single PL minute on the pitch for Gayle.

Ryan Fraser hasn’t scored a single PL goal since arriving at Newcastle.

Jeff Hendrick is so poor overall even Bruce isn’t giving him a game, whilst Jonjo Shelvey’s scoring record is abysmal really for somebody who certainly doesn’t give much defensively or workrate wise to the team.

There has to be a different way of approaching matches found, both in defence and in attack, that will hopefully mean avoiding relegation.

Talking about if only Callum Wilson could stay fit all season is pretty pointless, when his career record, especially with thigh / hamstring injuries tells you he won’t. I’d be amazed if Newcastle even get 23 PL starts from Wilson, which was his total last season.

A different manager, a different philosophy, could very possibly deliver a far better team at the front and the back with these exact same players, but this looks a distant hope as things stand.

No matter what the results or performances, so long as Steve Bruce is showing absolute loyalty to Mike Ashley, I can’t see him getting the push. You only have to look  at that horrendous two wins in twenty one matches spell last season, to see how unlikely it would be for Ashley to get rid.

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