If Newcastle’s 5th place finish in 2011/12 was the clear high point since their return to the top flight, then 2012/13 was certainly the low point. Newcastle struggled mightily last year for a number of reasons the mainstream media would never pick up on:
League Position 15th (41 points)
Shot Dom 9th (1.06)
Shots on target Dom 9th (0.94)
PDO 19th (89.1)
Newcastle were a middle of the pack shots and shots on target team, but Newcastle’s PDO was the boat anchor that dragged this team down. That anchor nearly dragged Newcastle all the way down the the Championship, but a timely win here and there in that run-in was enough to see Newcastle retain their status.
As mentioned above, one of the main reasons why Newcastle struggled so badly last term was due to their injury crisis which was caused, in part, at least, by the club’s involvement in the Europa League. Long term injuries to key players such as Coloccini, Taylor, Cabaye, Tiote, Krul and Ben Arfa really hampered Newcastle’s first team options.
Newcastle’s 12/13 Injuries Per game
Not only was Newcastle’s man games lost to injury number way ahead of league average, Newcastle’s number got gradually worse as the season wore on, which hampered them in key games in the run-in.
Looking ahead to 2013/14, it may be reasonable to expect that PDO and man games lost to injury may positively regress, and if they do this it should help Newcastle to rebound from a fraught and difficult 12/13 season.
Let’s now focus on the upcoming season.
We have to start with the clusterfuck that is Newcastle’s management team and it’s structure.
Pardew, rightly or wrongly, is the Newcastle manager and to be honest, he is probably a bang average manager at this level. Good enough to maximise the home advantage in the North East, but average enough to see his team over-matched away from home. has six years left of his contract, but the payoff package is quite low, apparently. Could be sacked.
Kinnear brought in, laughably, as director of football. Quite what he has to offer to the modern game is up for question. Friction with squad and Pardew likely. In short, he is Smithers to Ashley’s Burns.
Graham Carr the ex-Man City scout may well be Newcastle’s star man. Consistently finds mid-priced players who arguably outperform their transfer bet. His ‘hit’ list is too long to mention here. The rumours have Carr and Pardew barely on speaking terms over the positional deployment of some of his signings.
Owner Mike Ashley presides, sometimes irrationally, over this schizophrenic setup. Newcastle is a club with a lot of potential – huge match day revenue, secondary revenue streams – who, with the right managemnet setup could improve on their current standing in the Premier League. To do so may mean to do away with Pardew and Kinnear.
Th whole management structure at Newcastle has the potential to become a full scale war between the three parties, especially if Newcastle struggle once more.
Loic Remy has been Newcastle’s only signing so far this summer and Remy is… wait for it… injured!
Rumours had been swirling of a move for Darren Bent, but this looks increasingly unlikely. Jordan Rhodes is another who has been linked along with a host of players I have never heard of. I’d be surprised if there were no more transfers before the window shuts.
Simpson, Perch, Harper and a bunch of youth players. Newcastle retain a squad of 27 first team pros. This seems a little on the large side, but after last years injury crisis, it is understandable that Newcastle will carry a large number of players.
Newcastle were a mess last year: Off-field issues, friction between head scout and manager, and now they have Joe Kinnear’s arrival to contend with. If the off-field craziness can be kept to a minimum, Newcastle should be able to enjoy a bounceback season. Injuries – especially to Coloccini and Taylor – the sale of Ba, the regression of Cisse and the extra 10 games of European football all contributed to Newcastle having flirted with relegation last year.
If 2011/12 was an unsustainable performance, then 2012/13 was the overcorrection. Newcastle’s true ability probably lies somewhere inbetween those two extremes. And a finish around 10th to 12th place is probably to be expected.
If we assume that Newcastle won’t suffer the same number of injuries in 2013/14, and we add Loic Remy and one or two other new signings, then Newcastle simply have too many good players to be Premier League strugglers once again.
Away form is a concern, squad quality isn’t. 10th place.