‘Chris Wood plan may not be to the liking of many Newcastle United fans’
Chris Wood wasn’t a name on the lips of many (any?) Newcastle United fans ahead of the January 2022 transfer window.
An injury to Callum Wilson five days before that transfer window opened, had turned the situation from signing a striker would be a boost to the squad / team, into instead a case of it now an absolute necessity.
Who knows what options were looked at by Eddie Howe but on 13 January 2022 Chris Wood signed for Newcastle United and two days later the Kiwi striker was making his NUFC debut.
The shambles that Eddie Howe had inherited from Steve Bruce and Mike Ashley, meant there was absolutely zero Premier League cover for Callum Wilson when the former Bournemouth forward got injured.
Whatever the question was, Dwight Gayle certainly wasn’t the answer, so in the end Newcastle United paying the £25m release clause for Burnley’s Chris Wood.
That signing produced much hilarity from our enemies in the media, punditry, amongst other fanbases. Both for the fact it wasn’t Mbappe, Kane or whoever else they (our enemies) all claimed we as Newcastle fans had supposedly all been automatically expecting, as well as the price tag.
No clubs want to let their main striker leave in the middle of a season and so Newcastle United were forced to pay a premium for Chris Wood.
Having scored double figures in each of his four previous Premier League seasons, this time Chris Wood would manage only five (three for Burnley and a couple after joining NUFC). However, in his 15 starts under Eddie Howe, Chris Wood helped Newcastle pick up 29 points, with nine wins, two draws and four defeats.
I think it was fair to criticise Chris Wood for not scoring more goals but based on the chances created, I am thinking he was maybe only around three short of what he could / should have managed with Newcastle last season.
Whilst I expected nothing else from our enemies, I was disappointed with so many Newcastle supporters unwilling to accept that Wood had played a key team role in that outstanding (29 points from 15 starts) Premier League form.
Callum Wilson managed to get back to fitness late on, starting the final two games of the season, NUFC beating Arsenal and Burnley.
With the new season fast approaching, this kind of Chris Wood plan may not be to the liking of many Newcastle United fans…if I am proved right.
A lot of Newcastle fans appear to think it is a given that Callum Wilson will start the season in the first eleven and stay there, playing week in week out.
However, for me, I think Eddie Howe will be looking at a plan where Callum Wilson will hopefully start around two thirds of the 38 Premier League matches next season, with Chris Wood starting the others, around a third of so of them.
I think this makes sense on a number of levels.
Howe looks to be trying to bring in a versatile young striker who won’t necessarily expect to be an automatic starter and maybe more importantly can play wide right, with ASM left, then Wilson (or Wood!) through the middle. Ekitike certainly fitted that profile, though now the NUFC Head Coach appears to have been forced to now be looking at alternatives to the Reims striker.
I believe there will be some games anyway where Eddie Howe might see Chris Wood as the better option in the coming season, his tireless unselfish job for the team that we saw last season, put into play, plus far better service into Wood than has so far been the case, the likes of Trippier able to add that quality hopefully.
The biggest factor of all for me though, is that Callum Wilson has to be looked after. These past seven Premier League seasons, Wilson has only started more than 23 PL games on two occasions, 29 in 2017/18 and 32 in 2018/19, so five of the seven PL seasons have seen Callum Wilson start less than two third of league matches.
Only 23 and 16 PL starts these last two seasons at Newcastle United and with him turning 31 during the coming season, I think you would have to be a massive optimist to think Callum Wilson can start more than two thirds of PL matches this coming season.
For what it is worth, I think Eddie Howe will do everything he cam to stop him breaking down. Dropping Wilson to the bench regularly throughout the season, with Chris Wood starting instead, then often on these occasions bringing on Wilson from the bench as a replacement, or even sometimes playing them as a pair towards the end of games. Going down this route, hopefully helping the England striker to stay fit and available.
Not forgetting of course that as fans we are also hopeful now of Newcastle United really going for it in cup competitions, so hoping for a season that is far more than the bare minimum…last season seeing only the 38 PPL games plus two instant exits in the FA Cup and League Cup. We may even see an occasion or two where Chris Wood plays in the Premier League on a weekend and that allowing Callum Wilson come in fresh for a key midweek cup match.
The idea of having the same eleven players and trying to start them every single game, just isn’t practical.
I think Chris Wood could be one of the surprise bonuses next season for Newcastle United fans, with so many supporters having such low / non-existent expectations as things stand now.
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