During an exclusive interview with Nothing But Newcastle, former St. James’ Park hero Rob Lee has pointed out a tactical flaw in Steve Bruce’s system.
What did he say?
When asked about what he made of the problems Newcastle have in front of goal, Lee suggested the crosses need to start coming in on a more regular basis.
“You need something from the midfielders to help Callum Wilson up front,” he said.
“We need to create chances. If you’re playing Andy Carroll too then surely we’ve got to play wingers who can cross the ball into the box.
“Surely that’s what we’ve got to do, I think Wilson is a good goalscorer if you give him chances.”
Is he right?
While urging a team to cross more may sound a little simplistic, it’s alarming to see how little Newcastle are actually able to get into the box from out wide.
According to WhoScored, only five teams in the division average fewer a game (17) which, given the lack of flair through the middle of the park, is a major part of why the team struggle to create.
In fact, no player to have made more than six starts averages at least one cross per Premier League game, perhaps because none of Jeff Hendrick, Miguel Almiron or Joelinton (the three players often playing in wide positions) are natural wingers.
Clearly, there’s no guarantee crossing more leads to an upturn in goals but Carroll does boast an obvious aerial quality considering his size, while Wilson scored three times with his head with Bournemouth last season.
If nothing else, getting the ball into the box could at least put the opposition defence under more pressure.
Hopefully, with the return of Ryan Fraser (who averaged 1 per game last season), there is scope to improve on their rather dismal return so far. Indeed, with Allan Saint-Maximin also potentially offering more invention in the final third, perhaps the strikers will have more to feed off soon.
Right now, they need it.