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Opinion

Premier League clubs getting turned – Newcastle United negatively impacted?

3 months ago
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I read an interesting article on The Athletic last week, that highlighted Premier League clubs and the importance or not, of being ‘turned around’ as the author called it.

Which was the very thing that happened to Newcastle United against Man U.

Man U won the toss and so Newcastle kicked towards the Gallowgate in the first half, towards the Leazes End in the second half.

I don’t like it when that happens. It’s disorienting and a tad disconcerting. Does anyone else feel like that? There’s a good reason for it of course.

We generally kick in the other direction in the second half, not because of the iconic stand behind the goal at the southern end of the stadium, but because of the slope that runs down to the Gallowgate End.

Shooting the ‘wrong way’ in the second half is definitely unsettling.

When the opposing team wins the toss and I see Nick Pope scurrying back to collect his water bottle and towel, it feels like we have already conceded ground to our opponent, with potential for the whole game plan to be seriously disrupted.

That article last week on The Athletic, looked across the past seven seasons and took a sample of seven Premier League clubs comprising of Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Newcastle United, in order to test the hypothesis that (a) the home team will avoid being ‘turned around’ if it can and; (b) whether it makes any material difference to the outcome when a team is ‘turned around’. Note that the sample looked at Premier League matches only, so our count was a season down on the others, owing to our term in the Championship in 2016/17.

It turns out that Newcastle United have been ‘turned around’ on 22 occasions in 120 Premier League home matches in the past seven seasons, a ‘hit rate’ if you like, of some 18%. That’s the highest of any of the seven teams analysed. Arsenal and Man City have rarely been ‘turned around’ with their ‘hit rate’ being only 6% (or nine games each). That’s probably not too surprising, the Emirates and the Etihad being new stadia. On the other hand, Man United and Liverpool have both redeveloped their grounds and not moved from their spiritual homes. Therefore, as Newcastle United has, they’ve both retained their traditional, iconic home ends and as a result, have been ‘turned around’ 17% and 16% respectively (that’s 24 and 22 games) which is more like our own statistic.

The author concluded that in the case of those seven teams, except for Newcastle United, they’ve all largely coped with the switch of direction. Man City and Liverpool haven’t lost when it’s happened, Arsenal and Spurs have only suffered one defeat whilst Chelsea and Man United have only lost twice.

Our record when ‘turned around’ looks poor in comparison. We’ve registered 11 wins, 6 draws and 5 defeats on those 22 occasions where we’ve been ‘turned around’ in the past seven seasons (in the Premier League).

Rather disappointingly, the article from the Athletic went no further, save to compare Eddie Howe’s record when he’s been ‘turned around’ which shows (before Saturday’s encounter) an improvement since Eddie has registered 3 wins, 4 draws and a solitary defeat, at the hands of Liverpool in April 2022 under such circumstances. For completeness, I’ve set out Eddie’s ‘turned around’ record below, including that most recent match against Man United:

Clearly, Roy Hodgson favours turning us around when he can!

I began thinking about this more deeply (too much time on my hands I suppose).

The first thing to say is that we’re talking the past seven seasons, so most of that time spans the tenure of the FCB. I have no doubt that that explains why our record in comparison to the other six teams analysed looks so poor.

The other thing to say is that our overall record in those 120 matches shows a lower win rate (just 35% versus 50%) where we haven’t been ‘turned around’ (and therefore kicked downhill towards the Gallowgate End in the second half), although the percentage of losses suffered is higher (28% versus 22%). So, whilst I found the premise of the article very interesting, especially after reading it on the back of being ‘turned around’ as recently as Saturday, it transpires that over the past seven seasons, we were actually better off when kicking towards the Leazes End in the second half.

Finally, I wondered whether Eddie Howe has made any discernible difference and managed to reverse this trend. Guess what? It seems that he has. Eddie’s win rate when ‘turned around’ even after considering that win over Man United, is only 44%. When we haven’t been ‘turned around’ under Eddie’s stewardship and therefore kicked down the slope in the second half, our winning percentage is a much more impressive 69%.

Did that mean my sixth sense on Saturday when Nick Pope ran to the Gallowgate goalmouth to collect his water bottle and towel was right? Perhaps, although in the end, it was such a convincing performance that we won anyway. HTL.

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