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Opinion

Micah Richards absolutely on the money with new Newcastle United signing

1 week ago
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Micah Richards has been debating the merits of Newcastle United signing Chris Wood.

When it comes to journalists, pundits, whoever, talking about this NUFC transfer, they tend to be split into two very different extremes.

There are those ridiculing Newcastle United for spending £25m on a 30 year old striker.

There are those who look into why Newcastle United have spent £25m on a 30 year old Chris Wood.

Amazingly…those who are in this second grouping, pretty much unanimously all come up with the same conclusion when properly considering the pros and cons of buying the Burnley striker.

Micah Richards is the latest recruit and he perfectly explains why that is the case here…

Micah Richards talking to The Mail about Newcastle United signing Chris Wood:

‘People have questioned why Newcastle have paid so much money for a striker, who became the most expensive player aged 30 or over in Premier League history, and would have been out of contract in 18 months. I certainly didn’t — it is a good signing and he is perfect for them in so many ways.

Short-term he will not need to adjust to the demands of the Premier League. He would not have been the first striker Newcastle fans wanted to sign under their new owners but, if the worst happens and they are relegated, he will be the perfect man to lead them out of the Championship.

I do not see a promotion campaign being on Newcastle’s radar next year, though.

Why? They have brought in one of the top nine performing forwards in the Premier League over the last four years. Do not take my word for it — just look at the numbers.

From 2017-18 to the end of last season, the only players to get double-figure goal tallies in every campaign were Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Sadio Mane, Raheem Sterling, Alexandre Lacazette, Son Heung-min, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang… and Chris Wood. When you consider he is the only player in that group not to appear in the Champions League…’

‘So Newcastle have improved their squad with quality but, just as importantly, they have significantly weakened one of their rivals. I have no doubt that Dyche will be raging about what has happened, in the same way that Arsene Wenger was in the late 2000s and early 2010s.’

‘I can imagine how it will be in Burnley’s dressing room. They will be absolutely devastated to see their focal point go and wondering what chance they have been given. Dyche, who has done such an amazing job, will feel exactly the same. The fans will be similarly despondent.’

‘There will definitely be anxiety at Burnley now, as there is no guarantee they will bounce straight back to the Premier League. Newcastle, meanwhile, will feel the momentum is with them and can get out of the drop zone this afternoon by beating Watford.’

I think there are two big questions to be asked when you talk about Newcastle signing Chris Wood.

Is Chris Wood any good?

I think Micah Richards has answered that above.

Wood has consistently scored a very decent number of goals in the Premier League over the course of more than four years. Only eight others have scored 10+ PL goals in each of the past four seasons and as Micah Richards says, they all play for clubs who have played Champions League football in recent years. All eight of those players would be dream signings for Newcastle United in their current position, so why not the ninth on that list?

There seems a lot of snobbery involved in terms of Wood signing form Burnley and him being somehow tainted because of the way Sean Dyche’s team play football. When playing for Leeds, Chris Wood scored 41 goals in 77 Championship starts and the Elland Road side played good football, with Wood getting on the end of the chances created. Which is of course the key job of any striker in any set-up.

Newcastle United have been creating more chances under Eddie Howe but have suffered from having so few goalscorers in the team. Chris Wood 74 goals in his last five full seasons, with 46 of those in the Premier League. He isn’t a very top level striker but I would say he is a very good forward, who if he’d played for a better more attacking team creating chances regularly, would have scored significantly more than the very decent total he has done.

Is Chris Wood worth £25m?

This is a yes and no and really at the heart of the issue.

In general footballing terms Chris Wood isn’t worth £25m BUT he is very definitely worth £25m to Newcastle United. January is always a sellers market, clubs far less willing to sell their best players than in the summer when they can replace them, so able to charge higher prices. In Burnley’s case, selling to a relegation rival was something they pretty much would have refused to do at any price. The only reason Newcastle were able to get their man was because of the £25m release clause in Wood’s contract.

Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce ensured Newcastle went into this season with only one (very injury prone) Premier League level striker. That injury prone striker is out for at least the next two months, in the absence of Wilson, last Saturday even Gayle was unavailable, so Newcastle had to play with no natural centre-forward and lost to League One Cambridge. Missing a host of great chances, especially in the first half, with also 35 crosses going into the box and not even anybody trying to get on the end of them most of the time, never mind looking like scoring.

Wilson (six goals) is out until further notice and after 21 games this season, ASM (four) is the only other NUFC player to score more than one goal.

In the absence of any other obvious / viable Premier League ready strikers, can anybody really doubt that Newcastle United have made the right move? That is, if you want NUFC to stand the vest chance of avoiding relegation.

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