The start to the 18/19 season has been straining for Newcastle supporters around the globe. Rafa Benitez’s request for funds has once again been pied off by Mike Ashley. In result this is another season where Rafa is forced to stretch the resources and adjust tactics accordingly to accommodate the shallow squad that he has been left to work with.
Playing three Premier League games and one Carabao cup match; Newcastle are ending the first month of the new season winless in the league after defeats to Spurs, Cardiff and Chelsea. Bitter Elimination from the Carabao Cup to the hands of Nottingham Forest after a poor performance and poor referee decision making.
The most used XI for this month
The most used XI for August tells us that Rafa has chosen to put his faith in the players that already know how to work well together. Which suggests that he is allowing the new signings to settle, understand their roles then build chemistry with the team. Whichever way you look at this method, this slow introduction and team building is undoubtedly allowing the manager to get to know his players more and realise how he can create player instructions and strategies for each playing system.
Newcastle’s playing model and what we have seen of it so far.
The Newcastle United playing model is identical the playing model that we saw last season. The lack of transfer fees has prevented Rafa from signing players that provide squad depth.
The style remains the same which focuses on playing most of their football in the own half, plotting interceptions from the pivot in Shelvey and Diame then constructing steady counter attacks that are heavily reliant on getting the ball out wide to the wingers for them to carry the ball forward into the wide areas to create crossing opportunities.
This month we saw Newcastle deployed in two formations. The traditional 4-2-3-1 which were fielded against Spurs, Cardiff and Nottingham Forest in the cup. As well as the 5-4-1 against Chelsea.
The performance against Spurs is currently the best this season so far in that system: the players movements and positioning continuously transformed the 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3 when scheming to press and/or attack. When defending the formation drops to a flat 4-5-1 with Ayoze Perez joining the defense.
Link to tactics board: (Newcastle blue circle)
The matter if the team can continue to evolve as the season progresses will be the difference in survival and relegation. The playing model still needs a lot of work and Rafa is still discovering his best team, but the current playing model has it’s positives:
- The defending is compact which works well with tall defenders.
- Deandre Yedlin and Matt Ritchie work well together and cause many problems for the opponents full backs
- Joselu/Rondon are good target men for this system as they both can score goals with the head and feet.
- Newcastle attack in high numbers
Link to tactics board:
Where do Newcastle need to improve?
The team chemistry and organisation lacks discipline and defending has at times looked very disconnected and unaware of each others positioning.
Playing possession is a area of concern. Newcastle in most matches spend most of the time waiting for the opposition to press them which can be intimidating for the pressing team but in recent seasons in the PL – Teams that focus on defending deep end up cracking to the pressure. Rafa has spent extra time with possession based drills in training which shows that his analysis team have been paying close attention to the possession stats. On average from all four matches Newcastle have maintained a possession rate of 41% and a total of 1404 passes – needs to be improved.
Player of the month
The Spaniard is in fine form when he plays in front of the home crowd; scoring 2 goals in 2 appearances which is all of Newcastle’s league goals.
At this moment of time Newcastle are placed 16th in the Premier League with 1 point out of a possible 9. Injuries to Jamaal Lascelles and Jonjo Shelvey put Newcastle at a disadvantage in their matches against Chelsea and Forest and the duo could be out for the Man City match on the 1st September.
There are positives to take in reflection from the games that were played this month:
- Joselu is scoring goals
- Ritchie continues to be effective and hard working
- Kenedy has shown signs of that pace and flair that the team desperately needs.
- Fabian Schär has shown good energy in the defence.
The energy of the management team must focus on improving the system that Newcastle play and improving the time that they are in control of the ball.
What are your opinions on this months performances, results and injuries?
Let me know in the comments box.
Follow thefootballreporter on social media –
Twitter: thefootballrep3 / Facebook: thefootballreporterNUFC