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Opinion: Ashley’s short term plan puts Newcastle under threat

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Newcastle supporters will likely be anxiously biting their nails as it has emerged that the Saudi Arabian backed takeover bid may have stalled indefinitely, meaning Mike Ashley may remain at the helm in the northeast for yet another season. Due to the length of time the prospective takeover has taken, Ashley has been forced to engage in short term planning for Newcastle’s future, and Steve Bruce revealed his transfer budget would likely be cut.

The Daily Telegraph reported, via Shields Gazette that Bruce’s budget this summer has been slashed from £65m to £30m. The reason there will be a cut in spending if Ashley remains at the helm is due to the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic. But there is a risk that if careful recruitment does not occur and Newcastle waist a large proportion of the budget on another Joelinton style flop the Magpies could be left in a perilous position.

Bruce has successfully guided the Toon to Premier League safety, but there are some worrying stats underlying the impressive results. With one match of the season remaining the Magpies have the second-lowest expected goals in the top-flight, 36.15, above only Crystal Palace, 33.46, and worryingly behind bottom place Norwich City, 36.45.

Newcastle’s lack of potency in front of goal has been concerning for a substantial amount of time, and last year’s two main summer arrivals Allan Saint-Maximin and Joelinton have scored just five goals between them. While the Frenchman has displayed a lot of promise, the Brazilian striker has cut a frustrated figure, and together they have not replaced the 23 Premier League goals of Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez.

Additional concern comes via the fact that the Magpies have the third-highest expected goals conceded in the Premier League this term, 66.46, which they have outperformed by 11.46. The metrics suggest that Newcastle have been offering up high percentage chances to opposition sides which they have failed to convert, but that is unlikely to last if the Magpies keep giving away glorious opportunities.

Expected points are calculated using a combination of expected goals scored and conceded. The table is grim reading for any Newcastle fan, as the Toon sit at the foot on 30.85 points. Essentially, the data suggests that the Magpies’ current methods of accumulating points are unsustainable and will likely revert to the mean eventually.

Newcastle may not need an overhaul, but the expected points data suggests that some investment will be required over the summer to improve Bruce’s side. If the Magpies only have £30m to play with, they must ensure they do misspend their transfer kitty. Ashley’s short term planning amid a potential takeover has the possibility to put Newcastle under serious threat unless they can get the recruitment right on a budget this summer.

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