Ever since Leicester City won the Premier League title against 5000/1 odds back in 2016, the top six of the English Premier League has held the same teams. Now there is a club that will have aspirations to hijack that perceived ‘top-tier’, and aim for a first title race in over two decades.
That club, if all goes to plan at a corporate level, is Newcastle United.
Major changes inevitable
For over 20 years, Newcastle United is a club that has largely existed in a perpetual nightmare, instead of living the top-flight dream, but it was not always thus, with the likes of Newcastle-born Alan Shearer once setting Tyneside alight:
While the Saudi PIF have proven to be divisive, their potential takeover has not prevented talk of a major earthquake in the makeup of Newcastle’s playing squad.
With Newcastle mid-table going into May, a total makeover is not needed per-se. However, relegation odds in Premier League betting outright markets, as they will stand ahead of the next full season, could be uncomfortably short for Newcastle as things currently stand.
In the event of a takeover, the newly heightened demand for success would make club manager Steve Bruce duty-bound to build an upgraded squad around Newcastle’s more inventive talents.
In any case, with or without a takeover, there certainly needs to be more invention in the final third. The statistics, as they stood before Newcastle’s postponed fixture vs Sheffield United in March, highlight this with prejudice.
Caption: Tifo football recently summarised the finer points of the potential Saudi PIF takeover.
Too much stability?
Newcastle were to entertain Sheffield United after a run of just two defeats across their previous 13 competitive matches. Yet, over 50% of those had produced a stalemate, and the high concentration of draws within that sequence was unquestionably down to a lack of goals.
The clear preference for self-preservation is reflected by a return of just five goals across their previous eight league fixtures before that postponed match. Newcastle had also scored twice or more in just six of their 29 prior league outings.
Furthermore, just one of their nine league wins attained between August and March saw a margin of more than one goal. Most of their recent league goals have also arrived late, with each of their previous four coming after the 75th minute.
Chief goal threats Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin are currently the likeliest men to survive any revolution in playing personnel on Tyneside. Indeed, Saint-Maximin’s ‘Creativity’ index in the official Fantasy Premier League game stands at 292.3. That is second only to Jonjo Shelvey’s index figure (409.2) amongst Newcastle’s designated midfielders.
Caption: Saint-Maximin scored the winner for Newcastle in their last game before the unforeseen recess.
Daring to dream
Of course, only pure ambition from the outset will give Newcastle any chance of ending a horrendous trophy drought instantly. In turn, Brazilian star midfielder Phillipe Coutinho has been touted as one potential name that could join Newcastle’s revolution, along with Gareth Bale and Edinson Cavani.
Realistically, Financial Fair Play regulations may utterly ruin any chance of seeing Coutinho, Bale and Cavani grace the famous stripes simultaneously next season. As such, it may just boil down to a choice of one from those three giants – and that need not necessarily be bad news.
With all of those players approaching their twilight years, there is equal danger and opportunity associated with them. They have done it all, and won it all. Winning ‘it’ for Newcastle – whatever that entails – will require something much more spiritually profound than one last, vast payday.