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Greg’s Bi-weekly NUFC Report

Observations, Questions and a Prediction on Newcastle United

Newcastle United v Oxford United - FA Cup - Fourth Round - St James’ Park Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

This article is a bi-weekly report on Newcastle United. Comment on this article and we can leave the comments for further discussion


3 Observations:

Newcastle United v Liverpool - Premier League - St James’ Park Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images
  • Takeover - What a time to be alive. Yet another transfer rumor around the same time as the other ones but this one seems a tad different, doesn't it? The other bids that we are used too were real. In fact, George Caulkin has admitted himself that he saw the bids during his interview with Amanda Staveley. But what makes this one different? I feel the only facts that we can actually breakdown is who are these people and how much money do they bring to the table.

Chris Mort is taking over the bid process. If you aren't familiar with who that is, he is the former chairman of Newcastle United. He has been the architect of all other bids with Newcastle as well. I referenced the George Caulkin admission. Well he also said at the bottom of the three bids he saw, was the name of Chris Mort. Clearly he has familiarity with the situation.

Going back to Amanda Staveley, she is famous for brokering the deal with Manchester City but she is also famous in Newcastle because of her now three unsuccessful takeover attempts. She is once again the figurehead of this takeover which includes Saudi Arabia’s Sovereign-Wealth fund.

Another player(s) in this takeover attempt is David and Simon Reuben. They are famous property investors that have ties to the Northeast. They have been previous investors in the club as well. Their family is ranked the 2nd wealthiest family in the UK at £18.664 Billion. They make up 20% of the bid.

The other 80% is the big one. It will be sure to cause excitement and controversy. The Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF). This fund is chaired by Mohammad bin Salman who is notoriously known as Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and the fund is backed by a country that has a controversial human rights history. Some people may be against this, but the UK government is committed to investing in the North of England. One thing not talked about is not only will the club be wealthy, but there is rumors that the PIF would invest around £200M into Newcastle and I’m sure the Rueben brothers won’t stop investing. This is important, because no one can talk bad about the investment in Manchester after the Man City takeover. An entire area of the city was rejuvenated.

The last person I want to talk about it Mike Ashley. It definitely isn’t ideal that this news was leaked. It does put pressure on this deal happening, and with someone who we know as unpredictable is feeling pressured it could stop any deal. From what we know though, the deal will come down to one man only. It’s Mike Ashley. The deal has been confirmed, the people involved are confirmed, now it’s time to get things over the line.

Newcastle United v Oxford United - FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Iam Burn/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • Signings - I haven’t been able to talk about this in this article but we’ve signed Nabil Bentaleb and Valentin Lazaro. I want to break down how I see each of them fitting into Newcastle’s squad.
    Let’s start with Bentaleb: I’m starting with him because this is easier. Bentaleb is best suited for a holding midfielder. I think a pairing with him and Jonjo would be extremely beneficial. Bentaleb does what Jonjo struggles. Plays the short passes, builds the offense and is there more often than not in attack. He can also defend better than Jonjo. Jonjo likes to ping balls around the pitch and usually because of those long balls, he isn’t there to come up for the attack.
Newcastle United v Oxford United - FA Cup - Fourth Round - St James’ Park Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

With Lazaro it’s a lot more complicated. His best position is definitely Right-Midfield. The bonus is, you can put Lazaro in wherever you need more depth. A Wing-Back, a winger, CM, whatever. I think using him as a winger is best for Newcastle. Right now, outside of ASM and Miggy, we have Atsu and Ritchie. Lazaro instantly makes it an upgrade. I’m really curious to how impactful he will be. He is still young, but has been successful scoring from the left side, let’s use that to our advantage.

  • FA Cup - Newcastle has a big opportunity to advance further in the cup than they have in 14 years. They faced off against Oxford United at home in the 4th round. They played a strong lineup and......ended in a 0-0 draw. This one is blamed on the entire 1st team and most importantly Steve Bruce. I have been very optimistic about Bruce this season, not initially, but after results I have been proven wrong. For this match, it was a joke. The blame has to be put on him for fielding a PL side that cant get a win against a League One side at home. Now we have another match in Oxford with an already injury stricken side. Great. I do think we will advance, but I would love to see Steve take accountability for this match because it was awful and we played a strong side.

2 Questions:

Everton v Newcastle United - Premier League - Goodison Park Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images
  1. What is it with the late goals? - This is definitely a genuine questions because I have no idea how to answer it. In back-to-back matches, Newcastle scores three total goals in extra time to secure a win against Chelsea and a draw against Everton.

I looked up what the Premier League table would be if stoppage time was eliminated and Newcastle would be in 15th place with only 3 less points. But there is one stat that you can’t quantify. Effort. This team does not know how to quit. They defend relentlessly and keep going, keep pushing. I don’t think this will become a trend and for our heart health, I hope it doesn’t but it is easy to believe this team will outwork most.

When most PL teams are dominating possession against NUFC, it’s easy for them to rest up knowing that they will eventually score. This Newcastle team seems to use that to their advantage. It’s not fun to watch but this team is certainly easy to love.

Newcastle United v Oxford United - FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images
  1. How can NUFC get their attackers goals?: Of the 4 players that have played forward for over 100 minutes (Joelinton, Andy Carroll, Dwight Gayle, Miguel Almiron), there is a combined 1 goal, 5 assists in the Premier League. Now this is just playing in the forward position. Obviously, Almiron has more goals but not as a forward. 1 goal! It was Joelinton’s goal at Spurs was the last time a forward scored for Newcastle in the prem. I looked at the xG stats for the forwards as well. As a unit, NUFC forwards should have 5 goals and 3 assists so far. So they are outperforming assists but underperforming goals.

The first issue I think of is service into the box. Because of our counter-attacking style, it is very rare that you get multiple attackers in the box during an attack. At times, NUFC are lucky if two players are in the box by the time the cross is played in. The other issue is the quality of crosses. Usually the player doing the cross just made a marauding counter-attacking run up the entire pitch and aren't focusing enough on that final pass.

I don’t think we should change formations because we are doing indescribably better than the stats indicate. So how can we, in a 5-4-1, get our attackers goals? In a perfect world, when we have more possession, I would like to see our Wing-Backs stay on the outside while the Wingers work inside into the box. They puts Joelinton, ASM, and Miggy in the box making runs. If we have Danny Rose and Lazaro as Wing-Backs smashing balls into the box, I bet that number of forward goals starts to increase.

The last thing to talk about is Joelinton. He has definitely gotten better at linking up with the midfield. But unfortunately for him, that isn’t why teams spend money on strikers. We need to see goals. It is VITAL, especially in his young career to start scoring in the Prem. If not, I fear confidence could be a massive issue that might not recover while at Newcastle. We need to hope Bruce can fix this issue. He has oversaw successful strikers in his career and he needs to get Big Joe going and there isn't a lot more time to do so.

1 Prediction:

Newcastle will advance to the Quarter-Finals of the FA Cup - Yes, I said. We are going to beat Oxford on February 4th and then travel to West Brom and beat them. I am confident that it will happen at this point. Looking at the rosters, there is no way we should lose to either side, and if we do get to the QF, there is still a chance we wont play a PL side!!

“We want a team that tries” is a quote NUFC supporters have had for a while. This may be that opportunity we’ve always been waiting for a cup run. It is integral for Newcastle to stay up in the Prem obviously, but making a cup run is something supporters have been crying out for. This is as good as a chance as we’ve ever had so let’s go for it!

Beat Oxford, beat West Brom, draw Shrewsbury, beat them, then were in the Semi’s and Wembley! I can see it all happening right before my eyes, I just hope its a reality and I’m not dreaming once again.