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You need to look at Joselu and Dwight Gayle if you can’t appreciate what Chris Wood has done for Newcastle United

1 year ago

Chris Wood was making headlines on Wednesday.

Nottingham Forest set to be without £17m forward Taiwo Awoniyi for a couple of months after he picked up an injury in the recent 1-0 win over Southampton.

So Forest in talks with Newcastle United and the players’ representatives regarding a loan deal, set to include an obligation / option to buy, depending on where you read it. The likes of The Athletic and many other credible sources confirming talks have / are taking place, so seemingly all three parties (player and two clubs) happy for the deal to happen.

With Callum Wilson and Alexander Isak both now available, Chris Wood slipping down the pecking order. Plus, the consensus appears to be, that if Wood does go out this window, very likely we will then see that help provide the chance for a young versatile attacking player to be added to this NUFC squad.

I was both amused AND at the same time irritated, to see many of the negative over the top comments from Forest fans sadly  mirroring those of many Newcastle supporters. The word simple springs to mind.

As in looking at what has happened on far too much of a simple basis and people being…simple.

For example, Chris Wood has played in 18 of Newcastle United’s 19 Premier League games this season and scored only two goals, so he must be rubbish.

So much these days sees fans, journalists and so on using stats to back up their arguments / claims, without honesty coming anywhere near it.

Yes, Chris Wood has only scored twice in 18 NUFC Premier League appearances this season BUT putting it another way, Chris Wood has scored two goals in 437 Premier League minutes this season.

Bottom line is that Chris Wood has been repeatedly brought on in the final minutes of 14 PL matches to help see out the win on most occasions. He has only started four of these 18 PL matches. Indeed, if you add all of 437 minutes together, that equates to less than five full (5 x 90) PL matches. So in reality he has scored two goals in four and a bit’s worth of Premier League games this season. Funny what you can do with stats…

The thing is, you don’t need to rely on stats to tell you the Chris Wood story at Newcastle United, just use your eyes.

Callum Wilson picked up what looked a season ending injury v Man Utd five days before the January 2022 transfer window opened and with Newcastle United deep in relegation trouble and no other Premier League level strikers in the squad, due to the neglect / incompetence of Ashley and Bruce, Eddie Howe and the NUFC owners forced to bite the bullet and pay Burnley’s £25m release clause, or else they would never have allowed Chis Wood to leave. Burnley of course relegated last season, Wood’s departure undoubtedly significantly contributed to that.

Nobody claims that Wood’s true market value was £25m a year ago BUT Eddie Howe needed an experienced Premier League striker who could hit the ground running instantly, nobody else in the Premier league willing mid-season to sell their first choice strikers.

At Burnley, Chris Wood was used as the striker to get crosses into in the box and score goals, all four full seasons he scored double figures in the Premier League.

Yes, Chris Wood should have maybe scored two or three more goals last season based on the limited chances that came his way, however, Eddie Howe used him in a very different way to how he’d played for Burnley. Chris Wood dropping deep, working hard, linking up play, defending, help getting others into goalscoring positions, drifting out wide to make space etc etc.

In his 15 Premier League starts for Newcastle United last season, Chris Wood helped Newcastle pick up an astonishing 29 points.

If it is still too difficult to understand that strikers aren’t always judged on how many goals they score, just look at Joselu and Dwight Gayle.

Despite starting only 26 games in the NUFC 2016/17 Championship season due to injury, Dwight Gayle scored 23 goals.

I am not saying he would have kept scoring at that kind of rate when Newcastle were then in the Premier League BUT he would have scored considerably more than the six he did do in the 2017/18 PL season, if all Rafa Benitez had asked him to do was play high up the pitch, wait for the ball, get all the other players to concentrate on trying to feed him chances.

Instead, Rafa had him working hard, tracking back, dragging defenders out wide, doing a job for the team. Imagine that.

Ayoze Perez actually finished top scorer with eight and no way would he have got that total without the unselfish work of Gayle and others. Benitez had a plan and all the players bought into it, very much along the lines of the way the current squad believe in Eddie Howe.

If Rafa had thought only of looking to Gayle scoring the goals to keep Newcastle up, he may well have scored 12-15 goals BUT NUFC could well have been relegated, instead of finishing 10th with the seventh best defensive record in the 2017/18 Premier League, conceding only 39 goals.

With Mike Ashley going back on his promises to Rafa Benitez of properly backing him after promotion. Rafa in summer 2017 went and bought Stoke reserve striker Joselu for £5m.

How our enemies laughed, yet the German born Spanish striker also played a key role that season where NUFC finished tenth. Only four goals in 30 Premier League appearances (including 19 start) BUT he did the unselfish team role that Rafa asked him to do and the Newcastle fans, well most of them, appreciated that.

The following season was only two PL goals in 16 appearances for Joselu but only five of those 16 games he started. He still did a valuable job early in the campaign before the inspired Rafa loan signing Salomon Rondon got properly fit, Mike Ashley insisting on a £20m+ PROFIT that summer (2018) in the transfer market, as he undermined Rafa yet again. Even that loan deal was only allowed to go through due to Benitez reluctantly agreeing to Dwight Gayle going the other way on loan (scoring 24 goals from 34 Championship starts and a number of sub appearances, playing as an out and out striker for West Brom).

Joselu very much reinforces my Chris Wood point.

Before coming to Newcastle, Burnley very much used Chris Wood as an out and out goalscorer, the team built around getting the balls into the box for him to feed on, as well as him contributing hard work to the team effort.

In four full Burnley seasons in the Premier League, Wood scored 10, 10, 14, 12…he is no mug. At Newcastle United he has been used in a different role. Just how many decent crosses has he had, especially last season when playing regularly? With Kieran Trippier this season that dynamic has changed a bit but last season the delivery was woeful and infrequent into the box.

La Liga isn’t as tough as the Premier League but playing for weaker teams (Alves and Espanyol) Joselu has played as an out and out striker, get the ball into the box to him the main priority, ending up scoring 11, 11, 14 and 10 already this season.

Chris Wood is no Callum Wilson or Alexander Isak BUT he is a very credible Premier League level striker who will do a good job for whichever club he is playing for.


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