Newcastle fans describe what it’s like supporting United with either a Song or Movie title; here are 20 of the best responses.

Premier League

Expect the unexpected they say. From Yohan Kebab to YouTube signings – life as a part of the Toon Army can be… strange.

It’s difficult to find the appropriate superlative to describe what it’s like supporting Newcastle United. ‘Gold is refined in the fire’, they say – well, Newcastle United fans are solid gold then, because there has been fire and a lot of it.

Newcastle United fans



Having said that, fire produces quality characteristics and one of those is loyalty. For those of the Geordie nation who have been around a few years, no doubt, your loyalty has been tested. I’d suggest that if any potential spouse were to question your loyalty, just point them to your track record as a Newcastle United fan.

‘If I can love a club that’s been relegated twice in the last 11 years, that has consistently disappointed me and let me down, changed it’s home name and hasn’t aged well; then I can love you no matter what.’ – should be your response. If this doesn’t work ladies and gentlemen, then, no one can help you.

So, without further ado, here are a list of 20 song/movie titles provided by the fans that best describe what it is like to support this wonderful club.

1. Groundhog day – Harold Ramis.

2. The Long and Winding Road – The Beatles

3. Apocalypse Now – Francis Ford Coppola

4. Misery – Rob Reiner

5. Bad Romance – Lady Gaga

6. Road to hell – Albert Pyun

7. The NeverEnding Story – Wolfgang Petersen

8. Let it go – Frozen theme song

9. I’m not dead, just floating – Pink

10. Bitter Sweet Symphony – The Verve

11. Titanic – James Cameron

12. Ain’t that a kick in the head – Deana Martin

13. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Sergio Leone

14. The NeverEnding story – Michael Ende

15. The Dictator – Larry Charles

16. Beautiful Nightmare – Beyonce

17. The Day That Never Comes – Metallica

18. Quit Playing Games (with my heart) – Backstreet Boys

19. Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads

20. Liar Liar – Tom Shadyac

It’s been tough out there folks!

If you feel we’ve missed out on any goodies, please let us know in the comments section below, we’d love to hear from you!

Player Ratings: Newcastle United 3 – 0 Sheffield United (21/06/2020)

Premier League

Newcastle United took on Sheffield United at home for the first match back after the Corona virus break. Newcastle looked dominant and well organised. Credit to Steve Bruce for a great tactical setup, that led to a well deserved win for the Toon Army!

The first half was fairly evenly matched but the lions-share of chances fell to Newcastle. Most notably was Joelinton’s chance which he failed to test the keeper with. He later rectified this, with a great finish off an Almiron assist. I couldn’t be happier for the lad!

The second half started off with John Egan getting his second yellow in the 50th minute thus reducing Sheffield United to 10 men. Newcastle broke through in the 55th minute with Allan Saint-Maximin capitalising on a Enda Stevens defensive error. Matt Ritchie then made it 2-0 in the 69th minute with an absolute cracker of a strike, and in the 78th minute, Big Jo put the final nail in the coffin and sealed the game up with the 3rd.

Martin Dubravka: 7.5/10

Surprisingly quiet afternoon for one of Newcastle’s best players. Nonetheless, rock solid from Dubravka – what an asset he is to this club!

Javier Manquillo: 8/10

A player who is just improving as each week goes by! Great performance from Manquillo who worked that flank up and down.

Jamaal Lascelles: 7.5/10

Solid game from the skipper, he’ll be happy with the way his team has performed this afternoon! 3 points gives Newcastle almost certain assurance that relegation will be avoided this season.

Federico Fernandez: 8/10

Another fantastic performance from a player who has been patient to get his CB spot back. He is solidifying his position at the back and was a strong cornerstone for the team today.

Danny Rose: 6/10

Still trying to find his feet at Newcastle and not entirely convincing out there today. The potential is there, maybe more time is needed?

Isaac Hayden: 8.5/10 (Assist)

One of the most underrated players in the Premier League. Was absolutely outstanding today, practically didn’t put a foot wrong. Superb performance!!

Jonjo Shelvey: 8/10

Controlled the midfield with Hayden today. When Shelvey is on song, he is a treat to watch! Great game from this talented individual!

Matt Ritchie: 8.5/10 (Assist + Goal)

Loved seeing Ritchie back in the midfield and what a goal with a thunderous strike!! Grabbed the assist too for ASM’s goal. A great afternoon for a fan favourite!

Allan Saint-Maximin: 9/10 (Goal)

Took his chance when it came and gave United the lead. Terrorised defenders the whole afternoon – just getting better and better! Deserved Man of the Match!

Miguel Almiron: 8/10 (Assist)

Worked as hard as ever and put in a wonderful pass to assist Joelinton today. Making fantastic runs and was a nuisance for the defence today.

Joelinton: 7/10 (Goal)

Couldn’t be happier for the lad! After squandering a relatively easy chance, he did EXTREMELY well in the third goal for Newcastle. Started it all off by playing a lovely ball to Almiron down the wing and then worked extremely hard to get into the box and score with a great finish! Onwards and upwards big Jo!

Substitutes

Bentaleb: 6.5/10
Carroll: 6.5/10
Schar: N/A
Lazaro: N/A
Yedlin: N/A

Who is the Best Goal Scorer in Premier League History? Let’s settle this…

Premier League
Wayne Rooney, Alan Shearer, Andy Cole, Sergio Aguero, Thierry Henry, Premier League, Total goals, average goals
Wayne Rooney, Alan Shearer, Andy Cole, Sergio Aguero, Thierry Henry, goals scored, goals to game ratio, career goals
Career Premier League goals (as of 19/06/2020)

It irks me when folks point to statistics like the above to prove who the best PL goal scorer in history is. If one had to draw conclusions from it, you would say that Aguero is the best goal scorer because he has the best goal/game ratio (or goal/min ratio). Some would say Shearer for having the most goals – but this logic & these metrics are fallible when considered out of context. I will explain exactly why a bit further on.

Scope – The Case for the Greatest Forward/Striker

You will note how I specifically labelled this article the case for the best ‘Goal Scorer’ and not the best ‘Striker or Forward’.

To assess the latter, I would need to contemplate several statistics including assists, dribbling, passing etc. So, before I upset some of you (which I will inevitably do – but only in about 2 minutes time), this is not an analysis on the best striker or forward. Some would say Rooney was a great goal scorer and a great passer, some say that Henry was the most complete with his dribbling, passing and scoring ability etc. All of these are valid and could be very well crown them the greatest striker, but we will be nulling & voiding as many variables as possible to objectively analyse the best goal scorer.

What metrics NOT to use when comparing

As mentioned earlier, there are issues with using the goal/game ratio as well as absolute values as metrics to compare players’ goal scoring abilities, here are some of the reasons why:

  1. Goal/Game ratio doesn’t account for age differences as well as team differences. For example, Sergio Aguero (who has the best goal/game ratio) arrived in the Premier League relatively close to his prime at age 23. Players like Rooney, Shearer and Cole started playing in the Premier League (First Division pre 1992) when they were teenagers. Furthermore, Cole and Shearer were playing in the league until they were 34. It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to understand that this would undoubtably skew this ratio against them, as many games were played outside of their prime years. You essentially are then comparing a goal/game ratio of Aguero in his prime years against Shearer’s, Cole’s & Rooney’s entire career – hardly fair.

  2. Absolute number of goals aren’t an appropriate metric either. People often visit the list of all-time scorers and thus conclude that Shearer is the greatest goal scorer the Premier League has seen. But this isn’t a reasonable foundation to draw conclusions from either, as it fails to consider two pertinent points:

    1. Firstly, it doesn’t consider the team the individual played in. If you watch football, playing in a better team drastically increases the amount of chances you get as a striker, which then drastically increases the percentage of probable goals – the two are directly correlated (it isn’t complicated). It has been 19 years since the PL top scorer has played in a team outside the top 4 (Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink for Chelsea), and they still finished 6th that season. Furthermore, how common is it that league top scorers come from a bottom 6 side? It’s not a common occurrence, I’ll tell you that much.

      The point is, there are players who, I believe, were incredible goal scorers but just played in some relatively poor teams. Given the chances a striker would get at a better team, this could have significantly improved their goal scoring statistics.

    2. Secondly, and most obviously, players who played more games have a chance of scoring more goals. So, in this case, the likes of Shearer & Cole, who spent their entire career in sunny England should technically have more goals than players who only spent 5 years in the premier league.

We are then left with the question; how then, do we accurately and fairly compare these players? Let me give it my best shot…

Players selected & Methodology used

I have selected these 5 players for a few reasons. Most notably because they are normally the main subjects for debate in the ‘greatest goal scorers in Premier League history’. Coupled with this, they also are the top scoring strikers since the PL’s inception in 1992.

There are a few strikers (e.g. Luis Suarez) that were prominent, but unfortunately didn’t spend enough time in the Premier League to enter this debate. It therefore would become a ‘what if’ analysis.

I have also assessed them over 8 years (from the ages 21-28), as this was the least amount of time spent in the Premier League of the 5 of them. Thierry Henry joined Arsenal at 21 and left for FC Barcelona at 28. All other players have spent more than 8 years in the Prem. You will notice I have asterisks’ next to Aguero’s name on the graphs. This is because he only arrived in the Premier League at age 23, and thus we have compiled his statistics from ages 23-30.

The methodology I have used is the most critical part of this article. If you don’t understand this then the analysis won’t make any sense to you. It is exactly the same methodology I created for my Messi vs Ronaldo article. Enter the GAC (Goal Assist Contribution) Methodology. Please note, and as mentioned, we will only be considering goals and not assists.

Methodology (GAC):

I created this GAC methodology because it emphasises the importance of contribution of goals to a specific team as opposed to absolute values.

If I could explain it this way. Player A scores 40 goals out of his team’s 110 goals, and player B scores 27 goals out of his team’s 70 goals. Although player A scored 13 more goals in absolute terms, he was actually only a part of 36% of the team’s goals whereas player B was a part of 39% of his team’s goals. Player B is thus contributing more value and is statistically the better goal scorer.

Why this methodology is so effective in assessing performances, is it completely nullifies the impact the ‘team effect’ has on a player’s goal scoring figures. It all boils down to margins and it’s all about value of goals scored as opposed to absolute numbers.

In other words, even if a player is playing for a ‘weaker’ team, the players direct contribution to his team’s goals is what matters. A percentage evaluation of a player’s contribution allows them to be compared fairly with someone playing for a ‘better’ or ‘worse’ team.

Critically, I have also adjusted it for their minutes played in a season. So, for example, if Andy Cole only played 80% of the total minutes available that season, his contribution will only be measured up against 80% of the total team’s goals.

One could call this ‘total available team goals’, as it doesn’t measure up his goals against team goals scored when he was on the bench. We are therefore assessing his impact when actually playing on the pitch. This methodology accurately depicts the value of their goals in the context of the total available team goals.

Put differently, using minutes as opposed to appearances voids the effect of coming off the bench. For example, a player could come off the bench and play 3 minutes and most likely not score. This is then counted as a cap, and it adversely effects his goal/game ratio.

In conclusion, what this methodology does, is isolate the player by excluding the variables of the team played in and the games not started. When you isolate this statistic as far as possible, only then does it become comparable.

Wayne Rooney, Alan Shearer, Andy Cole, Sergio Aguero, Thierry Henry, Premier League finishes
Respective players average PL finish between the ages of 21-28. *23-30 for Aguero

To give you context, this table shows the respective players average league finish from the ages 21-28 (23-30 for Aguero). Cole won 5 titles in this period, Rooney & Aguero won 4, Henry won 2 and Shearer won 1. Furthermore, Shearer had 3 of the 8 comparative years, playing for a team that finished outside the top 10, which is why his average league finish is far lower in comparison. In conclusion, Shearer played for a weaker team and as a result, it is fair to assume he was given less opportunities to score which then directly impacts the amounts of goals he scored.

This is why contribution to total team goals whilst playing is the most accurate metric to compare by.

So, without further ado, let’s have a look at the data and compare who was on average the best goal scorer from the ages 21-28 (Aguero 23-30).

Contribution value of Goals Scored

Wayne Rooney, Alan Shearer, Andy Cole, Sergio Aguero, Thierry Henry, Premier League, Total goals, average goals
*Ages 23-30 for Aguero

Accordingly, from the ages 21-28, Alan Shearer has been contributing more goals to his team’s total goals in comparison to the other four. Shearer comes in at a whopping contribution rate of 42.1% of the goals, followed by Henry at 37.5%. What this is saying, in layman’s terms, is that from the ages of 21-28, whenever Shearer was on the pitch he was scoring 42.1% of his teams goals – this is remarkable. To break it down further, I have created a graph that shows their respective goal contribution at different ages (remember, Aguero’s comparison is between the ages 23-30).

Wayne Rooney, Alan Shearer, Andy Cole, Sergio Aguero, Thierry Henry, Premier League, Total goals, average goals
*Ages 23-30 for Aguero

Alan Shearer, clearly the dominant goal scorer here. He is contributing more to his team’s goals in 6 of the 8 compared years. The other two are split between Henry and Aguero.

The next item to be discussed is that of non-penalty goals. It is true that some of these players were the first point of call for their team when the ref pointed to the spot. As a result, a larger contribution of their goals came from penalties. For instance, in the comparative years, Alan Shearer scored a total of 33 penalties whereas Andy Cole only scored 1.

Let’s see what the goal contribution looks like once one removes the effect of penalty kicks.

Wayne Rooney, Alan Shearer, Andy Cole, Sergio Aguero, Thierry Henry, non-penalty goals average
*Ages 23-30 for Aguero

Even when isolating open-play goals, Shearer still comes out on top with a contribution rate of 34.4% which is followed up by Aguero at 31.5% – a slight reduction in Alan’s his lead. Once again, I have also broken this down year by year for comparison purposes.

Wayne Rooney, Alan Shearer, Andy Cole, Sergio Aguero, Thierry Henry, non-penalty goals
*Ages 23-30 for Aguero

This one is slightly more evenly distributed with Shearer, Henry and Cole being more prolific in non-penalty goals in 2 years whilst Rooney & Aguero having 1 each.

In conclusion, and according to the data and methodology, Alan Shearer is thus the best goal scorer in Premier League history.

Fans from other clubs may be disgruntled with this, and if you happen to be one of them, please let me know your objections in the comments below and I’ll be sure to reply to them.

Thanks for reading!

Sources

www.fbref.com

www.goalometer.com

www.premierleague.com

Messi vs Ronaldo: Let’s settle this…

International

Introduction

Has there ever been a fiercer debate in football – a bigger rivalry amongst players? Friend against friend, sibling against sibling and parent against child. Messi & Ronaldo have set the footballing world ablaze and have achieved heights that few of the greats can compare to. I am not sure if we will ever see anything like them again, and football fans around the world have been spoilt to witness two of, arguably, the greatest to ever do it. Given my love for football and my analytical background, I thought I’d attempt to settle the debate with regards to who, objectively, has been the better forward over their prime 15 years (18-32).

A quick disclaimer – the data derived for each player will be comparing them not according to seasons but rather according to age. Ronaldo is 2 years older, so the reasons for assessing them this way are self-explanatory.

At the end, we have inserted a poll for you to give your opinion on who you think is better. Please, we would love your feedback!

Case for the Greatest Player

You will note how I have specifically made this the case for the greatest forward and not the greatest player – there is a big difference.

For example, in the NBA, you may have a player that averages 50 points per-game but has no rebounds, no assists, no blocks nor steals. This player could be considered the greatest scorer, but not the greatest player. Accordingly, you have the exact same logic with football.

This might upset some people from the onset but there is no point in analysing who is the greater player between Messi & Ronaldo. The reason being, is that the moment you take away forward statistics (i.e. goal scoring and assists), it really becomes a one-horse race. Here are a few examples why:

Dribbling & Chance Creation – Ronaldo has completed 857 dribbles in his career, Messi has completed 2259 dribbles. That’s 2.64x more dribbles achieved in 144 fewer games. If you watch more than highlights, you’d know that Messi is arguably one of the greatest dribblers ever. Messi is also an incredibly effective dribbler – not doing continuous step-overs but rather beating players and completely disrupting defensive structures. I think even the harshest of the Argentine’s critics will concede this.

In direct correlation with his dribbling, is his ability to create attacking opportunities for his team members. He is able to draw players in and therefore out of their positions. Messi creates 2.64 chances for his teammates per 90 minutes, which is 64% higher than Ronaldo’s 1.61 per 90 minutes.

Passing – likewise, Messi dominates this arena. Some pundits have even hailed him as the greatest passer ever. Although debatable, he is in the discussion – the same can’t be said for Ronaldo. As the years have progressed in their respective careers, Messi has played deeper whilst Ronaldo has moved further forward. Since 2014, Messi has contributed to 0.44 key passes per game (Passes that lead to a goal) which is 57% higher than Ronaldo’s 0.28.

A more subjective angle is Man of the Match (MoM) awards and Match Ratings. Ronaldo has won 154 MoM awards whilst Messi has won 265 MoM awards. Ronaldo has an average match rating of 8.07 whilst Messi has one of 8.58. The point of all this is not to detract from Ronaldo, it’s simply just an objective outlook at the overall ability of the players and their added influence on a team.

Ronaldo Messi, Ronaldo vs Messi, Ronaldo Messi All time statistics, Messi Statistics, Ronaldo Statistics, Messi Goals, Ronaldo Goals, Messi Ronaldo Goals Statistics, Messi Ronaldo Assists

Scope

There are a few things I have ignored for the purposes of a fair comparison, and with good reason. Firstly, are team trophies.

I do believe that this bias can be dangerous, and I’ll explain why. When comparing the greatest player in footballing terms, using team trophies to back your argument is fallible in several regards. An example of this would be that only players who play for certain teams and certain countries could be considered the greatest. For instance, many fans place an emphasis on a World Cup trophy, and to be the best according to this logic, you’d have to win it. But as a result, that automatically excludes players from countries like Swaziland, Kazakhstan, Taiwan and Latvia to name a few. No matter how good a single player may be, in a team sport of 11 players, he cannot drag Swaziland to World Cup glory, sorry to my Swazi friends (My father is actually from there). It becomes entirely opinionated as some fans want this trophy and others want something else – essentially you are comparing a team with a plethora of variables and not the actual player.

I have also purposely excluded individual trophies from this analysis. People often point to Ballon d’Ors, saying Messi has 6 and Ronaldo 5. The Ballon d’Or in itself is a controversial award and isn’t based entirely on individual statistics but gives, in my opinion, too heavy a weighting to team performances and trophies alike. That’s why more often than not, the recipient comes from a Champions League winning side. I have also excluded the European Golden Shoe award in which Messi has 6 and Ronaldo 4. This is because this analysis is more focused on goal contribution to a team, than an absolute value.

To establish who the greatest player is, you need to isolate statistics and try to avoid (as far as possible) having too many variables. You’d also want to remove as much subjectivity as possible, which is why I have not included types of goals either.

Some people prefer Ronaldo’s 25-yard bangers whilst some people prefer Messi dribbling four players and then chipping the keeper. Both scored, and both from 25 yards out – which is more difficult? I’ll let you decide. At the end of the day, what is comparable is the ball in the back of the net and not necessarily if it got there via head, right or left foot.

We can go back and forth about penalties too. Messi fans say Ronaldo has scored more of his goals from the penalty spot, Ronaldo fans say, ‘if penalties are so easy, why does Messi miss more’? This is a pointless debate and one ends up chasing his own tail.

Case for the Greatest Forward

This is where the rubber meets the road and I have spent much time debating how best to objectively compare these two amazing players. Cristiano Ronaldo holds the record as the highest scorer in Champions League history as well as for Portugal and Real Madrid. Lionel Messi holds the world record for most goals in a calendar year, 91; additionally, he is also Barcelona’s, La Liga’s and Argentina’s all-time leading goal scorer.

We have two freaks of nature on our hands here.

The two important statistics pertaining to a forward are simply goals scored and assists provided – so these will be the two pertinent points of data. At a snapshot level, here are there all time goal & assist statistics.

Ronaldo Messi, Ronaldo vs Messi, Ronaldo Messi All time statistics, Messi Statistics, Ronaldo Statistics, Messi Goals, Ronaldo Goals, Messi Ronaldo Goals Statistics, Messi Ronaldo Assists

Now, if one would look at this at a glance, you may work out that Messi could go 104 games without scoring and still have a better goal/game ratio than Ronaldo. But I don’t think this tells a fair story as they haven’t played in the same leagues and international regions for their prime 15 years.

So, for example, many argue that the Premier League is more difficult than La Liga, and I believe there is some (although debatable) statistical weight to this assertion. La Liga’s top teams typically score more goals than the Premier League top teams – generally because the La Liga bottom teams are substantially weaker than the Premier League bottom teams. It’s not uncommon to find Madrid drubbing a bottom team 7-0, whilst in the Premier League it’s not uncommon to find teams fighting relegation beating teams in the top 3.

Methodology (GAC):

This is why I have emphasised the importance of contribution of goals as opposed to absolute values. If I could explain it this way. Player A scores 40 goals out of his team’s 110 goals, and player B scores 27 goals out of his team’s 70 goals. Although player A scored 13 more goals in absolute terms, he was actually only a part of 36% of the team’s goals whereas player B was a part of 39% of his team’s goals. Player B is thus contributing more value and is statistically the better goal scorer that season.

Why this methodology is so effective in assessing performances, is it completely nullifies the argument of one league being harder than another, it also nullifies the argument that a player played in a better team. It all boils down to margins and it’s all about value of goals scored & assists provided.

In other words, even if a player is playing in a ‘harder’ league or in a ‘weaker’ team, the players direct contribution to his team’s goals is what matters. A percentage evaluation of a player’s contribution allows them to be compared fairly with someone in an ‘easier’ league or playing for a ‘better’ team.

As a result, my methodology (let’s call it ‘Goal Assist Contribution’ or the ‘GAC Methodology’) computed both Messi and Ronaldo’s goal and assist contribution to the total team’s goals, from the ages 18-32 (15 years).

Critically, I have also adjusted it for their minutes played in a season. So, for example, if Ronaldo only played 80% of the total minutes available that season, his contribution will only be measured up against 80% of the total team’s goals. We are therefore assessing his impact when actually playing on the pitch. This methodology accurately depicts the impact & value of their goals and assists. Using minutes as opposed to appearances voids the effect of coming off the bench.

Let’s dive right in and start with the Champions League!

Champions League (CL)

I don’t need to give any introduction here. These players have terrified teams for so long – Ronaldo & Messi hold the first and second spots, respectively, for goals scored in the Champions League. Ronaldo having amassed 128 goals in 169 games (0.76 p/game) and Messi having scored 114 in 141 games (0.81 p/game). Now let’s statistically compare the two from the ages 18-32:

Goals

Messi, Ronaldo, Messi Champions League, Ronaldo Champions League, Messi Statistics, Ronaldo Statistics, Messi vs Ronaldo

On average Messi is scoring a higher % (40%) of his team’s Champions League goals than Ronaldo (33%) is whilst both are on the pitch. Messi also contributes proportionately more goals in 9 of the 15 years compared. I have added a 2-period trend line to give you an idea of averages as the years go by.

Now, the next question is – ‘when, are these goals scored?’. For those unfamiliar with the CL format, you have group stages and then subsequent knockout stages. As a team progresses through the knockout rounds, it is fair to assume that it becomes harder to score.

This is a valid question, but importance of games can be a subjective matter; in that you’d need to score in the group stages to actually progress to the knockout stages. For example, Ronaldo performed poorly and only scored 2 (12.5%) of his teams 16 group stage goals in the 2016/2017 Champions League. Madrid went on to win it, and Ronaldo had a fantastic knockout stage performance. But had it not been for his team stepping up in the group stages, Ronaldo would have 14 less knockout phase goals and one less CL trophy.

Messi, Ronaldo, Messi Champions League, Ronaldo Champions League, Messi Statistics, Ronaldo Statistics, Messi vs Ronaldo

Messi is ahead in goals scored during group stages, but the knockout stages tell a very different story. Although Messi is more prolific in round of 16 matches, Ronaldo completely dominates both the quarter final and semifinal stages. He has more than doubled Messi’s goal scoring in absolute terms during these stages and has a significantly higher goal scoring contribution to his team – mind-blowing. When considering the finals, Messi and Ronaldo are deadlocked, both scoring a goal every 135min of play. What both sets of fans refuse to admit, is that when it comes to finals, Messi and Ronaldo are cut from the same cloth – this will also be addressed later.

Messi, Ronaldo, Messi Champions League, Ronaldo Champions League, Messi Statistics, Ronaldo Statistics, Messi vs Ronaldo, Knockout Stage Messi Ronaldo

Assists

Messi, Ronaldo, Messi Champions League, Ronaldo Champions League, Messi Statistics, Ronaldo Statistics, Messi vs Ronaldo

Messi assists 12% of his team’s total goals on average, whilst Ronaldo averages 11%. Surprisingly for some, Ronaldo has assisted a higher % of his team’s goals in 10 of the 15 years, in comparison to Messi. Once again giving weight to Ronaldo’s Champions League prowess.

Goals + Assists

Messi, Ronaldo, Messi Champions League, Ronaldo Champions League, Messi Statistics, Ronaldo Statistics, Messi vs Ronaldo

On average Messi is either scoring or assisting 52% of his team’s CL goals when he is on the pitch, whilst Ronaldo is averaging 45%. Messi is also contributing to a higher % of his teams’ goals in 9 of the 15 compared years.

Just to pause here for a second, this is absolutely outrageous. When Ronaldo was 30, he contributed to 75% of his teams CL goals whilst playing and Real Madrid went on to win the CL that 2015/2016 season. But it is interesting to note that Messi last year (2018/2019), contributed to an astounding 74% of his teams goals (when playing) in the CL and FC Barcelona didn’t win the CL – this shows the fallacy in using team trophies to assess players.

Ronaldo has performed incredibly in the CL in more than one team. I think in conjunction with this, it is important to address a common error asserted by Messi detractors – ‘he can’t do it in the Premier League’. Given that Messi is directly contributing to more than half of his team’s goals when playing and has scored 26 goals against England’s top 6 – it’s hard to take that statement seriously. Although he has never played in the Premier League his 26 goals rank him 3rd since 2011 in goals scored against the top 6 – let that sink in.

In summary, Ronaldo’s domination in the quarterfinals and semifinals has given him the lead in the knockout phases of the Champions League. But overall and on average, Messi is contributing both more assists and goals to his team whilst playing.

League (La Liga & Premier League)

Once again, need I say anything about what these two have done in the leagues they have played in. Also, to reiterate, I am NOT comparing league trophies etc. this is because I am assessing the player and not the team.

Messi has scored 440 league goals in 476 games (0.92 goals/game) whilst Ronaldo has scored 440 goals in 566 games (0.78 goals/games). Messi & Ronaldo have 177 & 136 assists and their direct contribution per game is 1.30 and 1.02 respectively – staggering.

Ronaldo, Messi, Ronaldo Messi, Ronaldo vs Messi, Ronaldo League Statistics, Messi League Statistics, Ronaldo Messi Statistics, Ronaldo Goals Assists, Messi Goals Assists

Goals

Ronaldo, Messi, Ronaldo Messi, Ronaldo vs Messi, Ronaldo League Statistics, Messi League Statistics, Ronaldo Messi Statistics, Ronaldo Goals Assists, Messi Goals Assists

On average Messi is scoring 38% of his teams’ goals where Ronaldo is scoring 34%. Of the 15 years in comparison, Messi has contributed proportionately more goals in 9 of them. It is worth mentioning Messi’s 2011/2012 season where he scored 50 in La Liga for FC Barcelona – a league record. This season is represented by his 52% column at age 25,

Assists

Ronaldo, Messi, Ronaldo Messi, Ronaldo vs Messi, Ronaldo League Statistics, Messi League Statistics, Ronaldo Messi Statistics, Ronaldo Goals Assists, Messi Goals Assists

Messi is once again outdoing Ronaldo here and quite considerably too – assisting a whopping 16% of his team’s goals scored where Ronaldo comes in at 11%. Messi has outdone Ronaldo in 12 of the 15 years in comparison. It is also worth noting that most of Ronaldo’s years where he outdid Messi, was when he was playing at Manchester United. Some fans felt that Ronaldo was a far more complete player at that time.

Goals + Assists  

Ronaldo, Messi, Ronaldo Messi, Ronaldo vs Messi, Ronaldo League Statistics, Messi League Statistics, Ronaldo Messi Statistics, Ronaldo Goals Assists, Messi Goals Assists

Messi is directly contributing to a staggering 54% of his team’ goals when he is playing, where Ronaldo proportionately contributes 45%. Messi has outperformed Ronaldo here in 12 of the 15 years compared. It’s hard to fathom the type of impact these players are having.

In summary of their league performances (from ages 18-32), please refer to the table below.

Messi La Liga, Ronaldo League, Messi Ronaldo Statistics, Messi Goals, Ronaldo Goals, Messi vs Ronaldo

International

This is a consistent talking point when comparing Ronaldo and Messi. You often hear the argument that Messi needs to win an international trophy (not counting his Olympic gold medal) to be considered the greatest ever. I can see why this means a lot to certain individuals, but I am not sure how much weight it carries. For instance, and again, does this mean a player from Swaziland could never be considered the greatest (Swaziland will never win a World Cup or the AFCON)? There are too many variables at play on the international stage; essentially you are stuck with certain players and there is nothing that can be done about it.

Consider the period where Messi was the only player to score for Argentina in c.19 months (569 days). When someone else finally scored, Messi was the one who assisted them. National teams can be a nightmare to statistically juxtapose with one another.

It is worth noting that neither Ronaldo nor Messi have scored in an international final. Two examples to note: 2016 Euro, Ronaldo had a fantastic tournament but was then injured in the 25th minute and had to leave the pitch. Eder then scored and Portugal won. Ronaldo was praised. On the other hand, Messi led a fairly poor Argentinian side to a World Cup final – Higuain missed a sitter and Germany (which was a better team) won.

Hypothetically let’s say Eder didn’t score and France had won, and Higuain did score and Argentina had won. Would we then be criticizing Ronaldo even though he had a great tournament? I don’t think that would be fair at all – neither do I think it’s fair criticism of Messi.

Furthermore, both players have won a staggering 6 Man of the Match awards at World Cups. Ronaldo has won 6 Man of the Match awards at the Euros, where Messi has won 10 Man of the Match awards at the Copa America. Additionally, Messi has won both the coveted Golden Ball at the 2014 World Cup (4 goals, 1 assist, 46 dribbles, 16 chances created, 3.3 key passes per game and an average rating of 8.52) and the MVP at the Copa America, something Ronaldo hasn’t achieved in either. So, based on individual performances and awards do we now say that Messi is better? It becomes a slippery slope.

The point I am trying to make is that it is best to remove as many subjective points (i.e. team trophies, MVP’s, etc.) as possible and rather isolate the individual (as far as possible) and then compare.

Goal + Assists

For the sake of brevity, I have added goal and assist statistics together and we will analyse matters from there. Data is also quite difficult to unearth (i.e. minutes played at each age etc.), additionally, and please note that international fixtures are rather sporadic, making this arena the hardest to analytically assess.

There are no seasons, friendly games are at random and tournaments come around every few years. As a result, they have been different ages at different tournaments, for example Ronaldo has been at the age of 21, 25, 29 and 33 at a World Cups, whereas Messi has been 19, 23, 27 and 31. If I do it by age, I would miss out Ronaldo’s 2018 World Cup, which would hurt his statistics but if I included his last two years of age, his club statistics would then be negatively affected.

Age assessment, in my opinion, is not comparing apples with apples. Consequently, I have assessed this on an all-time basis as I believe it is the most equitable way to do so.

Messi Argentina, Ronaldo Portugal, Messi international Statistics, Ronaldo International Statistics, Messi Argentina, Ronaldo Portugal

An often-quoted statistic is that Ronaldo scores far more of his goals (83%) in official games as opposed to what Messi does (51%). This is true but it is also important to analyse these data points in context, and the only way to do that is to compare the opposition they play against. Just like we have accounted for the rebuttal – “Ronaldo has done it in the Premier League, against harder teams”, in our previous statistics, we should likewise account for it here.

Here we can see that Messi performs better in friendly matches whilst Ronaldo performs better in official matches. But what is important to note is the level of opposition. On average, Messi’s team have a FIFA ranking of 38 & 34 for friendlies and official games respectively, whilst Ronaldo’s opposition has an average FIFA ranking of 53 & 52.

Examining this further, in official international matches only 25% of the teams Messi has played against rank outside the top 50. Whereas for Ronaldo 57% of teams he plays against in international games are rank outside the top 50.

Furthermore, it is also important to note who are the teams these players are scoring against in official games. This helps determine the value & significance of the goals. Below I have constructed 2 tables listing the top 5 teams Messi and Ronaldo have scored against respectively.

Taking it a step further, let’s take a look at how often these two are directly contributing to a goal in either the Copa America/Euro or the World Cup.

Messi, Ronaldo, World Cup, Statistics, Euro, Messi Copa America, Ronaldo Euro

Messi edges it here, he is also doing it against more difficult opposition.

Having said that, most people know Messi for not scoring against Germany in the 2014 World Cup final, so I thought it might be relevant to see some of the top teams each player has yet to score against, as well as the number of matches they have played against them.

Obviously, there are certain statistics that may be more pertinent to one individual as opposed to another. Nonetheless, it is good to look at all the data and look at it in its rightful context.

One thing is for certain, and thats that neither of these players have been as consistent & effective with country as they have with club (Messi 2018 & Ronaldo 2014 are two prime examples).

Club Cup Competitions (Copa del Rey, FA CUP, League Cup)

As far as the Messi & Ronaldo debate goes, these are probably the least spoken of statistics. Local cups generally don’t carry as much weight as League and Champions League trophies do but nonetheless are important trophies. As a result, I have opted to give a snapshot of their statistics and let you be the judge of how important they may be.

Messi, Ronaldo, Messi Ronaldo, Messi Copa Del Rey, Ronaldo Copa Del Rey, Messi Copa Del Rey, FA Cup, Messi Statistics

Conclusion

In conclusion, I won’t be voicing my conclusion 😉

Instead, I will pass this over to you, the fan. As mentioned, we have left a poll below – please, have your say and thank you for reading!


Sources:

http://www.understat.com
http://www.fbref.com
http://www.michaelcosta.com
http://www.thestatzone.com
http://www.messivsronaldo.net
http://www.fifa.com

http://www.messivsronaldo.app

*Disclaimer: Certain websites offer slightly differing statistics. This data was compiled on 24/06/2020.

Newcastle United’s Top 10 Kits of All Time

Premier League

This is obviously a highly debated and subjective topic. Nonetheless, it’s good to reminisce on some of the highlights of Newcastle United’s history. Over the last 5 decades Newcastle have been lacking in silverware, but one aspect where United always seem to show up, is dapper kits.

Few jerseys in football have been as iconic as the black & white stripes of Newcastle United since switching to the magpie colours in 1894. We could have made a list of the top 30 kits and we’d still miss out on some epic ones. So, please feel free to comment and let us know of your favourite kits or ones you may have owned throughout the years.

Without further ado, here are ToonTalk’s top 10 Newcastle United kits of all time:

10) 1993-1995 Away Kit (Asics):

Newcastle United, Away kit, 1993, Blue, Asics
Admiral Blue, Newcastle United Away kit

This kit was an Asics master piece. Playing off the admiral blue you’ll find on the torso of the Eurasion Magpie, this kit was a fantastic change kit for United. Sponsored by McEwan’s Lager and accompanied by a black collar & blue socks, this was United’s first away kit at the dawn of the Premier League era – and we think it was a beauty.

9) 1992/1993 Away Kit (Umbro)

Newcastle United, 1992 away kit, yellow and green newcastle, Mcewans lager
Newcastle United 1992 Yellow & Gold Away Kit

The green and yellow combination dates back to the 1960’s and has reared it’s head from time to time in Newcastle away kits. Upon closer inspection, this specific kit, has unobtrusive green triangles in the background of the shirt. The jersey is accompanied by green shorts and collars, with yellow and green socks – McEwan’s Lager being the sponsor. This jersey paved the way for other yellow kits that were to follow in the years ahead.

8) 1993-1995 Home Kit (Asics)

Andy Cole, Newcastle United, Home kit, Asics, 1993, Tyne Bridge
Andy Cole scores for Newcastle United

This iconic kit was a worldwide sensation. The iconic Brown Ale’s blue star with the Tyne Bridge on it was etched into the memory of all Newcastle United fans. The first thought that springs to mind is Andy Cole’s sensational season, where he amassed an incredible 41 goals. Newcastle went on to finish 3rd in the Premier League, thus qualifying for Champions League football. Such an iconic shirt is only worthy of playing at the peak of club football.

7) 1969-1973 Home Kit

Newcastle United, Home kit, Malcom Macdonald, 1970
Malcom Macdonald in Newcastle United’s Home Kit 1970’s

A black and white master piece. This simple yet elegant kit set the tone for Newcastle United dress-wear for the decades to come. In the Summer of 1971, Joe Harvey signed Malcom Macdonald for £180,000 from Luton Town as he became a figure attached to this iconic kit. Supermac went on to be United’s top scorer for 4 seasons in a row, subsequently writing his name into Newcastle United’s history books.

6) 2009/2010 Away Kit (Adidas)

Newcastle United, Yellow jersey, yellow kit, bananas in pyjamas, 2010, Andy Carroll
Andy Carroll scores in Newcastle United’s away kit 2009/2010 season

This kit was met with a few gasps at first sight, and the Toon Army were soon to be dubbed the ‘Bananas in Pyjamas’. But this kit grew on Newcastle fans and was the uniform of an up and coming young Newcastle striker, Andy Carroll. Led by Chris Hughton, Newcastle comfortably won the Championship division to secure promotion back into the Premier League. This kit was a play off our previous yellow kits, and although Adidas took a leap of faith in producing this – they got it spot on.

5) 1932-1958 Home kit

Newcastle United, 1932 home kit, Winston Churchill, Newcastle FA Cup
Winston Churchill shakes hands with Jacki Milburn

Newcastle’s last successful era, as they won 4 FA Cup’s with this jersey, two of them being back to back in 1951 & 1952. United wore this kit for 26 years and with it’s loose fitting, baggy design, Newcastle cemented itself as one of the biggest clubs in the UK. Wouldn’t mind winning some silverware now, mind you.

4) 2013/2014 Members Kit (Puma)

Newcastle United, Members kit, Yohan Cabaye, 2013
Newcastle United Members Kit 2013

An instant sensation, this kit worn for a friendly against Braga took Newcastle fans by storm. It was Puma’s best creation for United by a country mile. A black and white kit that wasn’t striped – many fans would have loved to have seen this as our home kit for a season. Nonetheless, it was only worn for 90 minutes and then available for sale to members. One of the few highlights of the Ashley era at United.

3) 1995/1996 Away Kit (Adidas)

Newcastle United, Away Kit, 1996, Adidas, Newcastle Brown Ale, Newcastle Jersey
David Ginola in Newcastle United’s 1996 Away Kit

One of the most popular united kit’s of all time. Still worn by a plethora of fans, globally. This kit wasn’t only a classic for Newcastle, but ranks as one of the best away kits since the inception of the Premier League. Not only that, but this kit was worn by a team of superstars who were incredibly unlucky not to win silverware during their tenure at United. With the infamous Brown Ale as the sponsor, this jersey was accompanied seamlessly by white shorts and striped socks – mouth watering.

2) 1999/2000 Home Kit (Adidas)

1999, Newcastle United, Home kit, Adidas, Newcastle Brown Ale
Alan Shearer scores in Newcastle’s 1999 Home Kit

This kit was impeccably designed and also an instant classic. The blue trim was the icing on the cake and made this kit one of Newcastle’s most iconic. What accompanied this kit was even more special – the arrival of Sir Bobby Robson, the darling of the North East.

1) 1995/1996 Home Kit (Adidas)

Newcastle United, 1995 Home kit, Adidas, Newcastle Brown Ale
Peter, Ant & Dec in Newcastle’s legendary 1995/1996 Home Kit

Yes, you guessed it right. What else could it be? With the likes of Beardsley, Ferdinand, Ginola, Gillespie, Peacock, Clark, Asprilla etc. United unfortunately finished runners up this season, but what a team and what a kit. Lets hope they can produce some more amazing kits in the near future! But more so, lets hope Newcastle can generate teams that challenge for silverware that is oh so deserved for the Toon Army and well over due.

We are sure we have missed some saucy kits off this list, so please feel free to comment below! Howay man.

Year 2104: Newcastle fans assured that takeover to be announced “Next Monday” by newspapers.

Premier League

It’s a warm summers evening, 12 June 2104, and John Smithers (born in Jesmond) has just turned 102. Sitting on his couch, he yells out – “Alexa!! Has the takeover happened yet?”, to which she replies “Nee, wor John. But the papers are reporting that next Monday, it’s definitely going to be announced.”. Hearing this for the millionth time, still brings John some excitement as he imagines Diego Messi (Leo Messi’s great grandson) in the black & white. Good times are coming back to the North East…


What is most impressive in John’s eyes, is that Mike Ashley has been in charge for 97 years. Yes, can you believe it, 97 years – he just “can’t find a suitable buyer”, apparently. After finding out the takeover has been delayed just ‘another few days’, John is interested in further updates on the club; Alexa relays the following:

1) Newcastle United still have no comment on the takeover rumour.
2) Andy Carroll is injured.
3) St James’ Park was renamed, ‘Ashley’s Arena’ in 2052. This was in attempt to ‘attract potential new owners’.
4) Shola Ameobi is manager (at least some good news).
5) Matty Longstaff is still on £250 a week.
6) We haven’t played Sunderland since 2017. The Mackems find themselves in National League North now… tragic.
7) Amanda Staveley is still seated in the stands.
8) The world doesn’t use oil anymore…

Take what you will from the above facts, but there is absolutely no doubt that the imminent takeover will be announced…. next Monday.

Alan Pardew: Newcastle United’s most unfairly treated manager.

Premier League

Some might see this headline and dismiss this article right off the bat. But bear with me for a few minutes and you’ll see why I think this title is perfectly justified.

As a backdrop, it is good to remember that when it comes to managers, a sacking is only as good as the replacement. I remember having this debate over and over again in 2014, when fans were calling for Pardew’s head. My argument was never that he was the best manager, but rather, who would replace him? Football fans often think that situations can never get worse, but this is a fallacy. We have seen all too often that they can; Portsmouth & Sunderland are just two prime examples of that.

Towards the end of Pardew’s tenure at Newcastle, the scene at St James’ Park was utterly toxic. The Chronicle commented, “This was arguably the worst personal abuse a Newcastle manager has had to endure…”, and they were very right in asserting so. A dedicated website was setup, “sackpardew.com” as well as tens of thousands of cards being printed and waved at the stadium calling for his departure. The abuse he took was second to none and I’d like to address why it was misplaced and unjustified at its core.

alan pardew headbutt

Contemplating the lows of Pardew’s time at United.

I believe first and foremost it was his character that didn’t sit well with the Geordie faithful, and understandably so. Coupled with this, he isn’t from the North East, which can earn one a few extra mercy points when being dealt with. Pardew was often seen as a ‘yes-man’ that folded under the control of, and essentially his boss, Mike Ashley. I do however see a mitigate here in that it was his boss, this isn’t redundancy. I ask myself, how many of us reading this article stand up to our bosses when it could potentially cost us our job and therefore our livelihood’s. It’s often easy in these situations to expect others to do it, but unfortunately we do not hold ourselves to these same high standards.

In parallel with this was a few pitch-side stunts that were unfathomable in all honesty. Most notably was his head-butting of David Meyler, which was almost incomprehensible at the time. I remember watching it and having to rewind the TV to see if it really happened… unfortunately for Pardew there are no mitigates for these sorts of occurrences. It was completely inexcusable and a Premier League manager should be held to a much higher standard. Accordingly, he received the toughest managerial punishment in Premier League history with a 7 match ban and a £60,000 fine.

Referring to his side’s performances, Pardew, like many Newcastle managers in the last 2 decades failed miserably when it came to cup runs. Newcastle never made it past the 4th round in either the FA Cup or the League cup. There were also certain periods of his stewardship where the football was one-dimensional and Newcastle found themselves lingering at the bottom of the Premier League table; however we were never relegated during his tenure.

Assessing Pardew’s successes at United.

Alan Pardew had many significant accomplishments during his tenure at Newcastle. Most memorably was his 5th place finish in the 2011/2012 season. Given the relative spend of Newcastle compared to other clubs, this was nothing short of incredible. There is no other way to describe it. Newcastle also played some of the most fantastic football that season, carving up the Premier League’s biggest sides in impressive fashion. He still holds the highest Premier League finish Newcastle has had in over 16 years – noteworthy at the very least.

Subsequent to Newcastle finishing 5th, United qualified for the Europa league where he guided us to a very impressive quarter final finish. This is the only European football United has had in 13 years. Although the Premier League run was poor this season, Pardew can hardly take all of the blame for this. With poor investment in a very thin squad, losing our best striker, Demba Ba, to Chelsea as well as the heavily burdensome fixtures of playing Thursday night Europa football – I believe we did well to finish 5 points clear of relegation.

An aspect that Pardew never gets enough credit for are his transfers during his time at United. He signed some of the best players Newcastle have bought in 2 decades, and this aspect is all too often overlooked. Just to list a few, and please note the amount paid for each player: Ayoze Perez (£1.6m), Yohan Cabaye (£4.17m), Moussa Sissoko (£1.6m), Jamaal Lascelles (£4.17m), Mathieu Debuchy (£5.17m), Demba Ba (Free) and Davide Santon (£4.7m). This is nothing short of incredible, and I think any manager would be happy at snapping up these players for the above price-tags.

Pardew also had phenomenal personal achievements whilst managing the Toon Army, ones that you seldom hear regurgitated like his failures are. He was the first Newcastle United manager ever to win the ‘Premier League Manager of the Season’ award (he is also only the second English manager to win it) and likewise, he is also the first Newcastle United manager to win the League Managers Association Manager of the Year award. Coupled with this, he won two ‘Premier League Manager of the Month’ awards, one more than Rafa Benitez and he joins the only other two Newcastle managers who have won it, Sir Bobby Robson and Kevin Keegan.


Now, post reading this, does this sound like someone who is the ‘most terrible manager’; one who some have made Pardew out to be. This sounds at best a decent manager and at worst a mediocre one. But unfortunately, mob-mentality sometimes reigns amongst football fans. I think that the frustration during this time at Newcastle United was completely misplaced. It should have been directed elsewhere and it won’t take a football pundit to know who I am referring to. Managing Newcastle United is like sailing a ship with one arm tied behind your back – the manager is extremely limited in what they can achieve. Without the appropriate backing and support from the owners, you are destined for either failure or premature departure. For reference, just google Kevin Keegan’s comments of the difficulties that come with the job.

Lastly, and with reference to one of my opening statements, a sacking of a manager is only as good as his replacement. There is a common phrase, ‘the grass isn’t always greener on the other side’ and this could not have been more appropriate at the time. Securing a top manager under this current ownership is near impossible. Rafa was an anomaly amongst a host of failed attempts. Pardew wasn’t the greatest, that’s not the point of this article, but he was good enough and the vile, personal abuse he took was completely unwarranted. What followed was his departure, and the passing over to the not so ‘green-grass’ of Steve McClaren, and we all know how that one ended.

The cases for and against the return of Rafa Benitez

Premier League

Takeover speculation has sparked all sorts of rumours and debates amongst Newcastle fans. Alongside possible transfer budgets & targets, a hotly debated topic is that of ‘who should take the reins under the prospective ownership’. The three most prominent names in this discussion are the continuation of Steve Bruce, Mauricio Pochettino and the return of Rafa Benitez. In this article, we will discuss the cases both for and against the return of Rafa.

AGAINST:

We ran a poll where close to 1000 Newcastle fans voiced their opinion on preference of new management. It was very close, but most preferred the arrival of Pochettino as opposed to the return of Rafa. Now, we don’t conclude for a second that this represents the sentiments of all Newcastle fans, however subsection polls can be great insights into preferences if extrapolated out appropriately. Below were the three salient reasons for not wanting Rafa back.

1) Rafa left us for money’:

This comment has been floating around since the day Benitez decided not to renew his contract and leave for China. There are valid concerns here and some have felt this was a red flag – a sign of disloyalty towards Newcastle.

We do know that he is on copious amounts of money out East but there are a few mitigates here that are worth considering. Most noteworthy, was that Rafa was fed up under the current ownership and he isn’t the first manager to feel this way and act accordingly. Lack of ambition and frustrations in dealing with both Lee Charnley and Mike Ashley are often cited as the salient points. This is credible, but the most plausible reason for his departure would be a combination of both large monetary offers abroad and the difficulties with ownership on Tynseside.


2) Defensive football:

Rafa has been criticised for his defensive approach to football. Newcastle, which has a history (quite a few years ago now,) of attacking football has seen a change in the general trend of tactics as the Mike Ashley years have gone by. Rafa learned much of his tactical prowess from Italian legend Arrigo Sacchi, who coached the famous AC Milan side that won back-to-back Champions League titles in ’89 & ’90. This model of football is centred around the ideology of distinctly organised attacking formations as well as zonal defensive marking, which succeeded the typical man-to-man marking in Italy at the time. ‘Organised attacking’ setups can often be detrimental to the fluidity of play and we have seen Rafa (not only at his time in Newcastle) more than happy to ‘shut-up-shop’ and frustrate opposing teams with tightly knit defensive structures and limited go forward ball. Some believe, that if massive amounts of transfer funds are available, and given that more talented players could be purchased, Rafa won’t bring that riveting, exciting football to St James’.

In Rafa’s defence (no pun intended), he didn’t have the world greatest players at his disposal whilst in charge. On top of that, it was his tactics that kept us in the Premier League and even secured us a top 10 finish, which well surpassed the expectations of many.


3) It’s time to move on:

Some believe that the prospective new dawn for United should usher in a fresh set of minds. Pochettino is the most heavily linked name to Newcastle and his stellar resume precedes him; with successful stints at both Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur, he’s considered a top tier manager, and rightly so. There is good grounding for those apprehensive of Rafa’s return to St James’; as a fellow fan correctly pointed out that managerial returns are seldom successful and more often than not, complete failures.

In parallel, there is the option to continue as is with Steve Bruce. He’s a Geordie, loves Newcastle United and seems to be one of the nicest blokes in football. But is he the right man to take Newcastle forward? Can Bruce take the Toon Army onto bigger and brighter things? Most fans don’t seem to think so.


FOR:

Rafa managed to capture the heart of the entire city during his tenure at Newcastle United. Post Sir Bobby Robson, it would be fair to say he has been the most adored boss. Managers in years gone by have found it difficult to work with the current ownership but Rafa managed to outperform his predecessors, albeit with little transfer funds available. Here are a few pointers advocating for the return of Rafa:

1) Rafa is a great manager with a proven track record:

Few argue that Rafa isn’t an accomplished manager. His track record speaks for itself, with successful stints at Valencia, Liverpool, Napoli and most recently Newcastle United. He has won the most coveted of club trophies, the Champions League as well as an often forgotten accolade – the La Liga with Valencia. This is an incredible feat in a league that is completely dominated by Barcelona and Real Madrid.

If the supposed takeover happens, one would want a manager that has experience on the grandest of stages – Rafa most certainly has this. He is also highly ambitious and isn’t happy with mid-table finishes or relegation survival. This is clearly evidenced by his fall out with Newcastle’s current ownership, and was his main justification for leaving to China. Further to this, is Rafa’s knowledge and love for Newcastle. He knows this club and what it means to its fans around the world, bringing him back would not be a complete reset but would instead make assimilation with new owners far more streamlined.

2) He stuck with us through relegation:

Some tend to overlook this but it is a pertinent point to consider. Rafa’s loyalty has been questioned by many and understandably so, but we cannot forget how he stayed with the club after we were relegated in 2016. Benitez is not someone who would be found short of job offers, so one may argue that him staying does speak volumes for his loyalty towards United. It is also worth considering that we won the EFL that next season and were subsequently promoted back to the Premier League. Would this have been the case had he had gone and another manager were brought in? There is a possibility that Newcastle could have turned out very similar to that small club in red, down the road.


3) Unfinished business

Rafa has unfinished business at Newcastle United. He had a clear vision for the club – to see it back in the top 4 of English football and playing across Europe. Unfortunately, he was not given the tools to achieve this and by Mike Ashley’s own admission, Newcastle cannot spend the way City, Chelsea, Liverpool etc. do. He finished 10th in his first full season in charge of Newcastle in the Premier League, albeit with a squad that was barely Premier League worthy. Many fans want to see what Rafa can achieve if and when given the financial backing. He is a man who is well connected in Europe and has a decent record with player transfers. He is not a manager who is asking for excessive amounts of transfer funds but rather adequate backing to amass a competitive squad.


In conclusion, whether one is for or against the return of Rafa Benitez, one thing is clear, under this current ownership, United is very limited in what it can achieve. When considering a manager, one should always do it relatively. For example, a successful sacking of a manager is only as good as his replacement and accordingly the successful hiring of a manager is only as a good as the replacement opportunities forgone. In economics this is called an ‘opportunity cost’. So if Rafa is given the bosses seat in lieu of Steve Bruce, many would deem this as ideal. But if it was instead of Pep Guardiola, then we may be having a different discussion.

At the end of the day, this is all very wishful thinking and hopeful talk. Having a great manager without supportive owners is building a house on sand, and this is what Newcastle have been trying to do for many years now.


Newcastle United’s reported line up under new ownership… according to our ‘sources’.

Premier League

Rumours have been aplenty since the takeover news burst onto the scene and sports journalists have been LOVING it. I don’t blame them – when you have folks like me who will click on any article with the words ‘Newcastle’ and ‘Transfer’ in it, I’d do exactly the same.

Given all the names being thrown around like Nicolas Anelka on a transfer dead-line day, we thought we would also present our potential starting 11 based on our reliable ‘sources’ 😉

Please see references to our legit sources below.

Manager – ‘Arry Redknapp
“Well ya know”, forget Poch and Zidane – this is the man we want! With all the money that will be behind Newcastle after this takeover is complete, we need a manager who can bring in big name players! I am talking about the likes of Peter Crouch, Herman Hreidarsson, Niko Kranjcar and Benjani.

Goal Keeper – David de Gea
Our ‘source’ 😉 here (Aunty Susan, in the queue at Tesco’s last week) has told us that David de Gea is reportedly unhappy playing for a small club and wants to make the move to the real United. TBH, he’s not nearly as good as Dubravka, but since we’ll be paying £90m for him, we may as well start him for the first few games.

Left Back – Shane Ferguson
To win trophies, we need to show ambition. Our underground reports have led us to believe that this is almost a done deal. We didn’t think we could afford him, but Joe Kinnear also didn’t think he could make it as a director of football – and look what happened.

Centre Back – Sergio Ramos
If you didn’t know this, Newcastle United are LOVED by the referees. We always get the blow of the whistle unlike Manchester United, who just never seem to catch a break. Given this unfair advantage, our new owners have thought it appropriate that we sign the best behaved player in the game, who only has 20 red cards in La Liga. Should get him for a few quid.


Centre Back – Mike Williamson
Was he the best defender Newcastle United have ever had? No. But what can we say, our reliable ‘sources’ 😉 say contract talks have been concluded and he’s had his medical. Newcastle need pace, and that’s just what we’ve got here.

Right back – Nelson Semedo
After playing with with the great Lionel Messi, Semedo wants to take a step up and play for the same club as the greatest ever player – Shola Ameobi. Being this ambitious is tough, but this is what top dollar gets you. 16 year old YouTuber, Geoff, says the deal is done and that means it’s true – expect to see this break in newspapers soon.

Left midfield – Luka Modric
Luka, reportedly, is tired of feeding poor quality strikers like Ronaldo and Benzema in his career. This is why it was an easy catch for Newcastle United. We could have got him for £85m, but we have reportedly paid £120m just because we can. Howay Luka.

Central Midfield – “Yohan Kebab”
Joe Kinnear put this one together, and we just have to say “job well done!”

Right Midfield – Kevin De Bruyne
There has been no link here whatsoever, but since we are new to this game, we just thought we’d start a rumour. So please spread this and tell all your mates. It’s definitely happening, #cans.


Right Forward – Ferenk Puskas
Yes, we know what you are thinking – “this guy died 14 years ago!”, but still, it’s what our reliable ‘sources’ 😉 have informed us of, and we are obliged to bring you the latest news. Credit to our new owners for getting this one over the line!

Centre Forward – Peter Crouch
This is why our new owners have signed a top quality manager – to bring in players like Crouchy. Can you just picture it already? Yohan Kebab floats a long ball into the box, as Crouchy towers over the defence to header it home – then proceeds to do the robot in front of the Gallowgate end! Gold.

Left Forward – Lionel Messi
Messi – not half bad. New owners couldn’t afford Shola Ameobi unfortunately, so they went for second prize in the little genius. Our ‘source’ ;), Sergio, who runs a falafel shop in Marbella, says it’s a done deal for a cool £250m. The partnership and connection between him and Redknapp is mouth-watering.

So, Newcastle fans, this is what you can expect the line up to be very soon and we believe it’s honestly untouchable. As promised we have listed our very credible ‘sources’ 😉 below.

1) 16 year old YouTuber – Geoff.
2) Sergio, falafel shop owner in Marbella.
3) Susan, in the queue at Tesco’s last week.
4) Had a dream once.