While Newcastle United’s second-half performance during the loss at home to Leeds United was a marked improvement on what we’ve seen of late, it’s important not to get too carried away.
After all, Callum Wilson – the club’s main source of goals – remained an isolated figure throughout.
Without him, they chronically lack any kind of notable firepower and, while that worked to a certain extent last season, neither Jonjo Shelvey nor Allan Saint-Maximin are anywhere near their goal contribution tallies of 2019/20.
According to WhoScored, Wilson had just 26 touches in 90 minutes. No one who started the game for either side had fewer and only the late substitutions of Saint-Maximin and Dwight Gayle touched the ball less in the Newcastle side.
Granted, part of Wilson’s appeal is the fact he doesn’t necessarily need to be involved in the build-up play (though he did assist Miguel Almiron) but considering he managed just one shot, his lack of involvement is worrying from a team perspective.
That’s not to blame the £20m summer signing, however. With Bruce’s side at sixes and sevens of late and the utter lack of a coherent plan in the first-half, playing as a lone striker in this team must be a thankless task.
During the games in which Wilson has scored non-penalty goals, he’s been in possession a lot more of the time. Over those four games, his 123 touches equate to around 30.7 per game, so it stands to reason that – by getting him on the ball – Newcastle have a better chance of unleashing their best finisher.
If they don’t manage to find a system that brings him into play more often, his current goal drought looks likely to continue.