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Manchester United journalist gets it so wrong with Newcastle United comments

10 months ago

This Manchester United journalist has had a nightmare.

His comments about Newcastle United simply wrong.

As the two clubs could be set to meet next month.

Anyway, after the first leg results (Southampton 0 Newcastle United 1, Forest 0 Man U 3) in the Carabao Cup semi-finals, this is what the Manchester United journalist (Alex Turk) has come out with…

‘It’s a proper English cup final.

But I struggle to side with those advertising it as a glamour tie.

One team will look to play. The other will play for penalties.

United vs Newcastle final would go down just as it did at Old Trafford.

Newcastle having a week to prepare for a 0-0 while United play Barcelona in a European 2nd leg just 3 days before makes me uneasy.

The thought of a third successive final loss… Nightmare fuel.’

So anyway, he appears to be basing his opinion / argument about how a potential Newcastle United v Man U final would play out, based solely on the very final stages of the game at Old Trafford earlier this season. You would think from what he says that this was some kind of desperate all out defensive display from Newcastle United against an all singing all dancing brilliant attacking Man U team. It was anything but.

The goalless draw in October (2022) did see Eddie Howe late on settle for the draw BUT the stats of the game show that the two sides had two shots on target each, sharing equally eight corners as well. Also worth pointing out that Callum Wilson was somehow denied the most obvious penalty of all in that match, when Varane completely took him out in the penalty area.

I have seen others go down this route of trying to make out that Eddie Howe and Newcastle United are a negative team. Which is quite ludicrous. Yes, it is a side built on the best goalkeeper and back four in the Premier League, but that doesn’t mean NUFC are negative, quite the opposite in fact. Unlike the horrendous ‘front foot’ Steve Bruce football that Bruce promised, Eddie Howe HAS got NUFC playing front foot high press football. The team creating loads of chances and our problem is having the quality to finish those numerous chances.

The only occasions where you can say Eddie Howe went all out defence, were the very final stages of that game at Man Utd, after Liverpool equalised at Anfield in the second half, then after the break at both Brighton and Arsenal, where we were up against two sides playing really well. This led to a point at Old Trafford, Amex Stadium and Emirates, whilst it would also have been a point as well at Anfield if the referee hadn’t decided to carry on playing until Liverpool got the winner.

Newcastle remain the only PL side not to lose at Arsenal, whilst Brighton have hammered the likes of Liverpool (3-0) and Chelsea (4-1) at home, as well as winning at Old Trafford 2-1.

Eddie Howe sets out his tactics for a particular match depending on all kinds of factors but as the wins over the likes of Arsenal (final home game of last season), Tottenham and Chelsea have shown, as well as the 3-3 draw with Man City when Newcastle took a 3-1 lead AND should have had a penalty, Howe will go on the front foot against ANY team, if he thinks that is best way to go.

Where this Manchester United journalist gets thing so wrong, is that if he did his research, he would discover that when Newcastle drew 0-0 at Old Trafford, it was during a run of nine games where Newcastle won the other eight PL games and scored 24 goals, plus the two PL games directly before the draw at Man U had seen Newcastle score four (v Fulham) and five (v Brentford). When Man U have played these two clubs, they won 2-1 (against Fulham) and lost 4-0 to Brentford!

This is how the Premier League table currently looks:

As you can see, Newcastle United have actually scored more goals than Man Utd.

Yes, only the one more, BUT that in an overall context of having a 15 goals better goal difference, as Newcastle United have also conceded 14 goals less than Man Utd.

Thing is as well, despite continuing to pay higher wages and spend more money than any other club (apart from Chelsea these past two windows), Erik Ten Hag and Man U have been playing more defensive football than previously, desperately looking for a way back into the Champions League.

If anybody still doubts the weakness / emptiness of the claims / narrative from this Manchester United journalist…

Expected Goals is widely agreed to be the best way of measuring how well Premier League clubs play in any particular game.

To get a better look at how sides are doing, the Expected Goals (xG) metric allows you to get a better picture of just how teams are performing. Expected goals (xG) is a statistic used to work out how many goals should be scored in a match.

With every single shot awarded an xG value based on the difficulty of the attempt, with factors including distance from goal, type of shot and number of defenders present affecting the value.

The higher the xG of a particular shot, the more likely a goal should be scored from that shot. The xG value of every shot in a game is then used to calculate the expected goals in a particular match.

So rather than just the usual basic statistics of how many shots each team has, Expected Goals factors in where shots were taken from and how good a chance was and whether defenders in the way etc.

These are the up to date Premier League Expected Goals stats from Understat:

As you can see above, look at the column third from the right.

In the 20 PL games so far, Newcastle United have an expected goals total of 37.34, Man Utd is 33.04.

So based on chances, Man Utd should have been expected to score 33 instead of 32 goals, whilst Newcastle United should have been expected to score 37 and not 33.

It is Eddie Howe’s team that are creating more and better chances, that are attacking the opposition more, rather than Erik Ten Hag’s side.

Interesting as well, while we are here, to look at the expected goals conceded column, Man Utd have conceded 25, which is slightly more than the expected 23.14.

For Newcastle United the expected goals conceded is 20.57, as compared to the 11 that have been conceded. Which just goes to show how brilliant Nick Pope has been, summed up by that save at Palace. Only one save to make all game BUT it took a world class save to keep a clean sheet.

Nick Pope and Newcastle have ended up conceded more than nine goals less than expected based on chances for the opposition, though that expected conceded goals is only marginally beaten by Arsenal and Man City. With then Ramsdale and Ederson having actually conceded five and nine goals more than Nick Pope.

If it is indeed a United v Man U final, one thing for sure, Eddie Howe will NOT be sending out Newcastle United to play for penalties.


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