Two things Newcastle United should do to avoid relegation
There seems to be no end to Newcastle United’s woes in the Premier League. The Magpies once again crumbled to a 2-0 defeat against Leicester City on Saturday.
The 2-0 humbling at the hands of the Foxes proved to be their fifth defeat of the season in seven games and the Magpies currently sit 18th in the standings with only 2 points.
Although Newcastle showed some energy in the first half, Leicester City broke the deadlock via Jamie Vardy’s penalty after DeAndre Yedlin handled the ball inside his own penalty area.
Newcastle did not show the same level of intent after that and Harry Maguire’s second seemed to knock the stuffing out of the home team.
The manager might argue that the Premier League fixtures have been particularly unkind to his team. After all, the five defeats have come at the hands of some of the top clubs including Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.
However, more than the defeats itself, the manner of the defeats that should be a major cause of concern for Benitez. Newcastle have been rather subdued and have one of the poorest scoring records in the league, having scored only four goals so far.
They had less than 20% of the possession against Chelsea and almost repeated the same feat against Manchester City. In the latest defeat against Leicester, Newcastle had 41% of the ball but could only muster 1 shot on target to show for their efforts.
Those are poor numbers but to be honest, they have been worse this season. The manager’s ultra-defensive tactics have restricted the number of chances created in the midfield and there have been no signs of build-up play whatsoever. Their miseries are due to a combined result of lack of funds and some questionable tactics deployed by the manager.
However, here are two things that might turn Newcastle’s fortunes around.
Tinkering with the tactics and changing the formation
Newcastle have relied on ultra-defensive tactics with either a 4-4-1-1 or a 5-4-1 formation which hasn’t allowed the team to press effectively in the midfield to win the ball from the opposition.
As a result, the opposition has been able to mount the pressure on the defenders and Newcastle haven’t been able to impose themselves due to lack of possession.
They have often sat back deep inside their own half which has allowed the opposition to dictate terms in all the matches. Benitez should look to experiment with either a 4-1-4-1 or a 4-2-3-1 formation which would not only allow more players to get into attacking positions and but also bring the wingers into the play more often.
Benitez should use new signing Yoshinori Muto on a more regular basis in place of Ayoze Perez, who has performed far below his potential this season.
Matt Ritchie, Jacob Murphy and Kennedy have been somewhat lively down the flanks and Benitez should allow them to have a more profound impact on the game. With either Joselu or Salomon Rondon in the box, both of whom are good with their headers, the wingers can create more chances with their crosses from the flanks.
2. Relegation Funding
Newcastle were linked with plenty of promising players in the summer but the club failed to land of their targets due to the unavailability of funds.
Now that the Magpies are at the wrong end of the table, owner Mike Ashley needs to boost his funds to provide something for the manager to spend in the January window.
Newcastle were linked with French striker Alassane Plea in the summer but couldn’t meet the asking price to go ahead with the deal. Even the deal to sign Andros Townsend from Crystal Palace fell through (h/t Chronicle Live).
Newcastle need to bring in a versatile attacker who can not only score goals but also create chances.