Prior to the start of this season, the contributors at Coming Home Newcastle filled out their predictions for the following categories. As you can see from the table below, some of the picks have been spot on, while others have been off the mark.
Final League Position:
As of right now, Newcastle is 14th in the League, and they surely could’ve been in a worse spot. If they had lost to Man City as most had expected, they would’ve been in 17th place. Just like last year, the bottom half of the Premier League table is incredibly tight, and each match should be approached with extreme caution.
In regards to our own predictions, it seems as though almost all of us overestimated how Newcastle would fare. Of course, finally acquiring a playmaker like Almiron may improve Newcastle’s final outcome. Apart from Bryan Nelson and Gene de Gourville’s predictions, everyone else’s prediction is still in play.
The majority of the contributors here predicted that Rondon would be our top scorer, and it looks likely that this will hold true. Rondon has really hit his stride with Newcastle, and the team plays best when he’s on the field. There were also some shouts for Muto and Perez, but for a variety reasons, the two have failed to find the net with consistency.
Though Muto has struggled for form due to international duty and injury, he could yet be a key contributor in the second half of the season. Ayoze Perez, may benefit from no longer being the focal point of Newcastle’s attack. If Ayoze eventually gets dropped to the bench, it wouldn’t be the end of the world, as he’s done well coming on as a sub in the past.
Here are Newcastle’s top scorers this season in all competitions:
Salomon Rondon 7 Goals
Ayoze Perez 4 Goals
Ciaran Clark 3 Goals
Joselu 2 Goals
Matt Ritchie 2 Goals
Most of us predicted that Ayoze Perez would accumulate the most assists, but that doesn’t look likely. Matt Ritchie has been delivering excellent crosses from set pieces and open play and has accumulated 5 assists so far. Salomon Rondon is currently at 3 assists, but it’s likely that Matt Ritchie will win this category at the end of the season. Kudos to Greg Troxell for likely getting this one right.
An outside shout would be Miguel Almiron, given his knack for setting up teammates. However, it would be exceptionally difficult to catch up to Matt Ritchie in the 14 matches remaining.
Here is the assists tally:
Matt Ritchie 5 assists
Salomon Rondon 3 assists
Isaac Hayden 2 assists
Ayoze Perez 2 assists
Player of the Season:
Yikes! Our predictions were way off here. Many of us predicted that Kenedy would be the player of the season. He was expected to build on the good form from last season, but he has instead regressed a whole lot. His struggles initially became clear when Rafa Benitez was still using the 4-2-3-1 formation, but now that Rafa has switched to the 5-2-3/ 3-4-3 hybrid formation, Kenedy has struggled to even get on the pitch. The other picks, such as Ayoze Perez, Jonjo Shelvey, and Jamaal Lascelles, have also been off their game.
Perhaps, the most worthy candidates for player of the season are Salomon Rondon, Martin Dubravka, and fan favorite Matt Ritchie. Fabian Schar also deserves a shout, and his chances would likely be boosted if Rafa would start him more regularly. Regardless, there’s still plenty of time for the players to insert themselves into this conversation.
Best New Signing:
Our picks were divided between two players for this category: Salomon Rondon and Yoshinori Muto. Out of the summer signings, Salomon Rondon has been the best signing thus far. Yoshinori Muto could still have a positive impact, but he has been slightly anonymous for the majority of the season. He would have to go on a Papiss Cisse-like goal streak to enter consideration. Fabian Schar and Federico Fernandez also deserve some recognition for the performances that they have been putting in.
Additionally, now that Newcastle have signed two players in the January Window, they will also be in consideration for this category. Specifically, Almiron could add a whole new dimension to Newcastle’s attack, and that would undoubtedly make him a serious contender. However, it could take him a while to settle in at the club.
Surprise of the Season:
There was a decent amount of variation in our responses for this category. Christian Atsu and Sean Longstaff are two players that are worthy of consideration. Atsu came off a pretty debilatating injury, and Sean Longstaff was thrown in the deep end against top sides in the Premier League. Both of them have done well to force their way into the starting line-up.
One could argue that Kenedy should be up for consideration, since his performances have been so shocking, but this category was ultimately intended to highlight positive surprises.