Newcastle have enjoyed a good run in the Premier League since Rafael Benitez promoted them to the first division in 2017. Despite the accusations made against owner Mike Ashely over his lack of spending, the club continues to enjoy a good run of form every season since returning to the top flight. This season has been more of the same.
Currently sitting 14th in the table, Newcastle are eight points clear of the bottom three after twelve games. So how do Steve Bruce's men secure comfortable mid-table finishes every season amidst the despair and chaos from the fans and the club hierarchy?
A lot of it has to do with the footballing philosophy at Newcastle dating back to Benitez's time at the club. A shrewd tactician, Benitez quickly realized that fancy football from a team without a purse was not possible, especially not in the first division.
Benitez himself clarified this point on Monday Night Football with Jamie Carragher. The manager said that he was effective at operating with the limited resources at his disposal.
Despite pursuing defensive, negative tactics, Newcastle finished as high as tenth in their first season following their promotion to the Premier League. Former Zenit St. Petersburg striker Solomon Rondon's evolution into one of the best in the league that season was perhaps one of Benitez's finest achievements at the club.
Benitez's defensive style of play coupled with vertical long balls to the target man has remained in place following his departure from the club. Steve Bruce was lucky to have inherited an experienced outfit when he took charge last year.
While lower-ranked clubs like Aston Villa and Leeds United are pursuing attacking football, Newcastle's pragmatic, defensive approach assures them of Premier League survival.
Newcastle fans may be unhappy with where the club currently stands, but the team have started to convert draws into wins. While they were blasted away last week by Leeds United, Newcastle have succeeded in registering wins against teams near them in the table.
This season each of their victories have come against teams like West Brom, Burnley, Crystal Palace, and West Ham. While it may not be a great sign of progress, it keeps them out of a scary relegation battle.
Another advantage that Newcastle enjoys is that Steve Bruce is one of those 'survival masters' who has dealt with relegation battles in the past. This gives them an advantage over their rivals when it comes to staying in the Premier League.
The club are also doing relatively better this season when it comes to finding the net. With 16 goals coming in their first twelve games, the Magpies are on course to avoid the relegation battle this year.Published 21 Dec 2020, 17:43 IST