Newcastle's Performance Year On Year: The Fall

Stu Forster

The aim of this article is to discover the how and why Newcastle United regressed so hard from the amazing high point of 2011/12. I'll try not to get bogged down in the complexities of Newcastle's underlying numbers and instead show the reader one or two main reasons why the team fell so hard.


Goals For Goals Against Points
Season 11/12 56 51 65
Season 12/13 45 68 41
Year On Year -11 -17 -24

That isn't pretty. the points drop off is huge. Huuuuuuuuuuge. We don't need to look too far as to why Newcastle dropped 24 points year on year. It's right there in the chart above under the header Year On Year. It's all about the goals.

Why did Newcastle concede more goals and score less?

Shots For/Shots Against


The chart is a bit of an eye bleed but you get the point.

A curious element of this chart is how/why Newcastle started the 2012/13 season pretty well, out-shooting the opposition by a decent margin, but something happened around the Game 10 mark and from then on Shots On Target against spiked and then sustained between 4.5-5 SoT against. I am not sure what caused the spike nor the sustain but regression, bad luck, injury, change in system may all have been factors.

The same effect is in play in the 2011/12 season too. You guys have any ideas as to why?

So let's get this straight: Newcastle conceded 17 more goals and scored 11 fewer year on year. Their shots on target count looks like this:

SoT F SoT A Total
Season 11/12 156 179 335
Season 12/13 174 185 359

Shots on Target Against looks pretty similar year on year, Shots On Target For actually improved from the previous season (score effects may be in play here: if a team spends more time losing it will probably see a bump in it's shots for column as the team is chasing the game).

So we are no closer to finding out why Newcastle scored 11 fewer goals and conceded 17 more goals in 2012/13 compared to 2011/12.

The Percentages



We know Newcastle scored 11 less goals year on year despite increasing their shots on target count by 23 and the chart above tells us why those goals dropped off. It's all about the scoring%.

In 2011/12 Newcastle had a 35.89 scoring%. In 2012/13 that dried up to 25.86% and that drop (28% in real terms) is mighty difficult to overcome. Simply put, this is how the goals dried up.

Reasons for that 28% drop in scoring%:

  • Regression
  • Lower quality of player
  • More time spent losing and drawing where it is harder to convert shots into goals
  • Poorer shot locations (possibly due to some score effects)



Newcastle's save% was trending nicely until Arsenal and United scored 11 goals in just 2 games at games 19 and 20. Newcastle's save% never recovered from that double blow.

Overall Newcastle's save% looks like this year on year:

Season 11/12 68.71%
Season 12/13 63.24%
Change -7.96

Newcastle conceded more shots on target this year but only ever so slightly. The problem for Newcastle was that their save% in 11/12, which was very close to league average, fell through the floor and ended up 4th worst in the league ahead of only Villa, Southampton and Wigan.

Final Thoughts

Newcastle dropped off a cliff this year: points were way down which was powered by goals for being down and goals against being up. That fall in goal difference is mighty difficult to overcome and it showed in Newcastle regressing this season, although far harder than many thought. But that fall in goal difference wasn't powered by Newcastle becoming a far worse shots team, no, it was caused by a drop in save% and a huge drop in scoring%.

That these percentages regressed this year is no surprise. Given time, nearly every team regresses back toward the mean of scoring and save%. The level of regression was stunning though.

In short, Newcastle's excellent season in 2011/12 was powered, to a certain extent, by a very good scoring% and a league average save%. Newcastle also spent on average, a near league high amount of time in a winning position in 2011/12. All these things add up and can help explain why Newcastle finished 5th.

The issue was not all of those things were sustainable and so it proved in 2012/13 when the scoring% fell off badly, save% dipped, time spent winning dropped and injuries struck.

Lucky and good in 2011/12. Unlucky, dire away from home and a lot injured in 2012/13.

Newcastle's 'true' level is somewhere in between these two extremes. I'd guess at around 48 points may be par for the upcoming season where the richer will get stronger and the rest of the league will get squeezed. Pinnacle has Newcastle's point line at 46.5 points.

<em>This is a submission by one of our readers. Like what you see? Hit the "REC" button.</em>

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