There’s a lot of negativity surrounding Newcastle United’s latest performances and, truth be told, rightly so.
Thumped 5-2 away at Leeds United, Steve Bruce’s side then amassed an xG of only 0.09 when playing against 10-man Fulham at home over the course of the weekend for 30 minutes, in a performance widely criticised by fans and journalists alike.
Still, while it’s important to address the issues afoot, there is at least one consistent positive we can take from the season so far. The performances of Callum Wilson.
The story so far
Signed for £20m from relegated Bournemouth, committing such a big fee in a Newcastle context could well have been viewed as a risk.
Clearly, any doubters have been proven wrong. Eight goals and three assists so far is the best return of any Newcastle in recent memory and the England international hit the six-goal mark quicker than any Newcastle striker since Les Ferdinand.
What does it mean for Newcastle?
It’d be fair to say Newcastle rarely outplay teams under the management of Steve Bruce.
During his 51 league games so far, the Magpies have only won by more than one goal six times, suggesting the games from which they’re going to get anything are likely to be tight.
In Wilson, they have a man to finish chances, even if few are created in a game as he proved against Crystal Palace. Taking 24 shots according to the league’s official website, he’s scored 33.3% of his efforts and already hit two more than the club’s highest scorer last season.
— Premier League (@premierleague) December 19, 2020
Averaging two strikes on goal a game (via WhoScored), he’s given Newcastle much more of a presence at the top of the pitch considering the highest average in the entirety of the last campaign was Allan Saint-Maximin’s 1.8 per 90 minutes of league action.
Critics may argue that four of his tally is made up of penalties but, in fairness, he has won two of those himself.
Where does he sit in the pantheon of big Newcastle signings?
These are early days and it’s hard to say what his legacy will be only 13 games into his career on Tyneside.
Still, it’s difficult to think of a major Newcastle signing who has had such an instant impact. Alan Shearer, of course, is the gold standard but, aside from the legendary marksman, not many of the club’s big-money arrivals have proven to be worth the investment.
Joelinton’s struggles have been well-documented since his club-record move to St. James’ Park and Miguel Almiron hasn’t proven to be consistent since breaking the transfer record six months or so prior to the Brazilian’s signing. Michael Owen’s time was blighted by injury and question marks over his commitment, while Albert Luque (the sixth most expensive signing in Newcastle’s history according to Transfermarkt) recorded just four goal involvements in 34 outings.
The other members of that list – Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic – were both involved in the 2016 relegation and Saint-Maximin’s second season has been disappointing so far. Florian Thauvin, meanwhile, was shipped out on loan after just 16 games.
Transfermarkt rank Wilson as Newcastle’s fourth most expensive arrival of all time and, looking at the names above, he’s made a much more instant impact than any of the others aside from Shearer.
Given Shearer cost £15m, it’s fair to say Wilson is Newcastle’s best use of big funds in their recent history.
Granted, it’s not as if he’s got an awful lot of competition on that front but it is only right to praise the club for their decision to move for him despite his injury record. That alone is unlikely to subdue the frustration directed towards the hierarchy but it should be commended as a decision in isolation.
Text by Shearer prior to his move, Callum Wilson is one of few positives we can talk about right now.