Predicting where Newcastle United will finish the season is as predictable as the weather in the UK – you check the weather forecast, glance out the bedroom window and see blue skies, and think, “yep, today is definitely shorts, t-shirt and sunglasses day!”, but of course, by the time you get to the park, it’s become overcast, and eventually begins to rain – in the middle of August.
Newcastle are a bit like that, you eyeball the list of names and can evidently see an extremely talented array of players, possessing all the right ingredients for success. As a reminder, here’s what most people tend to think is our best side:
Other players to call upon aren’t too bad either, with the likes of Yanga-Mbiwa, Gutierrez, Anita, Marveux, Gouffran to name a few who combined, offer a mixture of International pedigree, experience and ability.
Add the exciting youngsters such as Sammy Ameobi, Vuckic, Dummett, Campbell and this club should really be pushing for European places in the league. Is that the case though? The vast majority of predictions floating about this summer for where Newcastle will finish the 2013/14 campaign have been a long way short of Europe.
Pundits, ex-professionals and sports journalists alike have all made predictions in the run-up to the season opener, and on the whole most predicted a mediocre season at best for the club. Here is a small selection:
Michael Owen (BT Sport) – 16th
David James (BT Sport) – 7th
Alan Smith (Telegraph) – 9th
Guardian – 12th
Bloomberg – 8th
On average, the betting companies have Newcastle 7th favorites for the drop. Alan Pardew is currently leading the sack race across all bookies. Picking a trivial bet for whether Newcastle will finish in the top 10, you’ll find the likes of Everton, Southampton, Villa, WBA, West Ham, Swansea and Fulham with shorter odds.
All of this does not make for pretty reading for Newcastle fans – David James’ optimism aside.
The Bloomberg prediction is an interesting one. It relies on previous seasons data down to an extremely detailed level per player. Statistics such as pass/tackle success rates, crosses, shots, saves, importance of various players, records/form against specific teams and a whole host of other data-points are apparently fed into a model which calculates fluctuating team strengths before running through the entire fixture list and making predictions for the season.
The Bloomberg model puts Newcastle 8th, which given the ‘gut feeling’ of others proves that Newcastle really are a difficult side to understand. It’s clear that man-for-man, Newcastle have a good starting XI. What is less clear to a computational model however is the unfortunate circus that never seems to go away when it comes to the club.
Joe Kinnear being brought in as Director of Football and the crazy media-storm caused in the months following has been very unsettling. His main task has been to bring players into the club, yet two months down the line and we have only seen Loïc Rémy arrive on loan & one of our most important players having his “head turned” (importance of a player is a critical variable in the Bloomberg calculation too remember).
For all their talents, the situation we find ourselves in is almost identical to that from the start of last season – good players available when fit, but how often is that the case?
What hit Newcastle hard last season was the fatigue caused in part by Europa League involvement, but also just typical season wear-and-tear. The league is all about squad utilization, and beyond Newcastle’s first 11-15 players, there is a real lack of depth and experience.
Football’s an opinion-based game when it comes to the fans and spectators, so we all like to dissect these pre-season predictions and make our own too. Personally, I think Newcastle should have enough to finish 8th, despite a thin squad. I think Rémy is a good signing, and the key to our success will be playing a high tempo game, preferably far more on the deck than last season, giving the ball to Ben Arfa and Remy, and giving Cisse as much support as possible. His movement is decent, so give him a few opportunities and he’ll be sure to take one.
Newcastle should do well, but unfortunately the above is more along the Bloomberg-line of analytical reasoning. There’s simply not enough depth, and unfortunately I also don’t think Alan Pardew is the man with the tactical understanding to get the best out of the players we have.
Add the arrival of ex-manager Joe Kinnear, and you can see why Pardew is the bookies favorite for the sack. Too much of this pre-season has undertones similar to that when the club was relegated, and that is a worry. These additional factors are part of the reason why many have predicted a mediocre/poor season for Newcastle. The odds are that they will be more correct than the optimists among us.
Here’s hoping for a season in which we confound the critics though, have an enjoyable season, and head to the hallowed park on the top of Barrack Rd prepared for whatever weather the footballing Gods decide to throw our way.
While you are enjoying the start of the season, a great way to get your football betting in training is to shoot over to one of your favourite online casino like GamingClub.com/au and play some football themed slots games.
If you are a little old-school in your choice of slot games, then try out the retro football themed slots game called “Game On”. This is a three reel slot game with just the one pay line so there is no danger of getting lost. It combines the best of one-arm bandit slot machines with a modern football theme and there is a £10,000 bonus which is a great way to sustain your interest.
Written by Mohsin Khan