Why rushing Callum Wilson back from injury would be a huge mistake
Watching Newcastle United fall to a meek defeat at home to Chelsea on Saturday, it would be hard to argue they didn’t miss Callum Wilson.
The striker has made a huge difference since joining from Bournemouth over the summer, and Steve Bruce’s side barely threatened Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy in his absence.
Plenty of Newcastle fans will be desperate to see Wilson back in the starting line-up as soon as possible, with others in the squad struggling to plug the gap.
However, considering his age and injury history, could it be more advisable to take him out of the firing line for long enough that he can make a full recovery, rather than rushing him back and risking a longer absence?
Newcastle’s situation with Wilson is not that dissimilar to the one facing West Ham United with their talisman Michail Antonio.
In the Hammers’ case, Antonio’s return has not been rushed, and David Moyes’ side were able to grind out results against Fulham and Sheffield United - admittedly more beatable opponents than the Chelsea side which won at St James’ Park - in their last two games.
There is a notable difference, of course, namely that the injury currently affecting Antonio is one to have troubled him in the past, whereas Wilson’s previous setbacks have involved his knee rather than his hamstring. However, the desire to wrap him in cotton wool, especially with a winnable game against Crystal Palace on the horizon, is understandable given the risk of re-injuring the same part of the body.
“Unfortunately with hamstrings they do have a high rate of recurrence... and with the highest risk tending to come in the first two weeks of return to sport as well,” explains Dr Katie Walker-Small, Programme Leader for Sport Rehabilitation, Institute of Health, University of Cumbria, noting that research has found about a third of all hamstring injuries will recur..
“So getting through those first two weeks is absolutely massive in terms of trying to reduce long-term injury risk as well."
Jamaal Lascelles explains what triggered Newcastle United blast after seeing things he 'didn't like'
Jamaal Lascelles admits he 'couldn't help' himself after blasting his Newcastle United team-mates following the Magpies' defeat at Southampton in 2016.
Newcastle suffered a 3-1 loss at St Mary's, which left Rafa Benitez's side six points from safety with six games to go, and Lascelles did not hold back after the game.
Lascelles, a second-half substitute that afternoon, said the black-and-whites needed 'more characters' and 'players who care' after the club's ninth successive defeat away from home.
Although Lascelles was not the club captain at the time, the comments did not come as a huge surprise. The centre-back had previously led a dressing room inquest following a 5-1 defeat at Crystal Palace and also said 'no one gives a f***' after being sent off in the 3-0 loss against Everton.
Rafa Benitez went on to appoint Lascelles as the Magpies' new skipper in the summer of 2016, after noting how the defender had 'really developed as a character and a man', and the 26-year-old has been asked what made him speak out at St Mary's that day.
"Just frustration, really," he told NUFC TV. "I think, at the time, I didn't really feature much. It was my first season at Newcastle.
"I used to train with the first team and I used to travel to the games. Sometimes, I would not be in the squad but then I started to feature a little bit after Christmas.
"I just saw a lot of things I didn't like and I didn't expect from professional footballers. Social media and seeing comments and seeing fans' frustration, me being in around stuff while they're frustrated, it was kind of just a build-up really.
"When I started to play more, I felt I had a bit more of a voice and I just thought it was the right time to say something.
"Obviously, I wish I said something earlier but because I wasn't playing too much - I was 21 at the time - I didn't really feel...being in a dressing room, being one of the youngest lads, being around the experienced pros, I did feel a bit out of place
"But after the game with adrenaline and just how I was feeling, I couldn't help myself to be honest.
"It's sport at the end of the day. There shouldn't be any individuals in a team. We're a team and we win and we lose together and we stick together.
"Everyone understands that in every single sport, things aren't always going to be smooth and maybe, sometimes, someone will have to get upset or have to be told.
"I felt that was a perfect example of when something had to be said, really."
Report: Newcastle to offer Jacob Murphy new deal
According to Football Insider, Newcastle are preparing to offer winger Jacob Murphy a new deal at the club amid interest from Rangers.
The 25-year-old is set to be out of contract at the end of the current campaign.
Newcastle United are set to offer Jacob Murphy a new contract to block clubs including Rangers trying to sign him in January, Football Insider understands.
The 25-year-old has reignited his St James’ Park career after winning over Steve Bruce, who stopped him going out on loan in September.
A Newcastle source has told Football Insider the club plan to offer Murphy an extension to his contract, which expires next summer.
'It's exciting for Newcastle fans': A legal expert's view on the next stage of the takeover battle
The behind-the-scenes machinations of the Newcastle takeover continue as the consortium look to shift the Premier League's block on the potential deal.
The Saudi PIF withdrew in July citing commercial constaints but efforts to revive the deal have continuted on both buyer and seller side.
And Mike Ashley's attempt to take legal action against the Premier League reached its apex with the statement released last week confirming arbitration action.
But little is known about either the process or potential remedies available to Newcastle.
So we asked Thomas Horton, Football Law expert and barrister at 3 Hare Court Chambers, for the lowdown on the legal battles to follow.
Read the full story below...
Buyers still retain confidence
This is from George Caulkin's talk-in with True Faith on Friday. On the takeover - and timescales.
In terms of that confidence, that is the one thing that I will steer clear from. Simply because they’ve never been short of confidence.
Confidence has never been a problem, the problem has been getting it done and that that hasn’t happened.
So yes, they’re still confident and yes, they’re still there, they’ve not gone away, and still planning to take the club over .
Premier League wants "more substantial return"
Premier League statement on return of fans.
Our ambition remains to work with Government to increase attendance to more substantial levels. Until this can be done, many fans will be unable to attend games and our clubs will continue to operate matches at a financial loss
'I cannot see Atletico Madrid scouting NUFC substitutes'
Paul Robinson says Miguel Almiron's agent has "disrespected" NUFC. The ex-England goalkeeper told Football Insider:
If my agent said something like that he would not be my agent any longer. I would get rid of him.
You do not need that as a player. Almiron is at Newcastle and trying to get into that team to play week in, week out.
You do not disrespect a football club even if you do not want to be there. You may have clubs interested in you but there is ways and means of conducting your business.
The agent did not cover himself or the player in glory.
Almiron does not play every week so there is no logic in Atletico Madrid being interested in him. I cannot see Atletico Madrid scouting Newcastle substitutes.
He wants to concentrate on his football, get in the team and let his football do the talking.
The agent is just trying to create some kind of story around his player to get a move in January
Nick de Marco's Twitter hint....
A few murmurs online today. No doubt not dissuaded by this...
Nick de Marco is at it again - and some fans are convinced it's an #nufc takeover hint: https://t.co/31MpAlSxrT— The Chronicle (@ChronicleNUFC) November 23, 2020
Johnson confirms fans return
Boris Johnson confirms the plan.
"In Tier 1 and Tier 2 spectator sports and business events will be free to resume inside and outside with capacity limits and social distancing providing more consistencies with theatres and concerts."
Fans returning to grounds
Fans to be allowed into grounds from next week. Times politics writer Steve Swinford writes:
4,000 spectators/ 50% capacity for outdoor events, whichever is lower, and 2,000/ 50% capacity for indoor
2,000 spectators/50% capacity outdoors, whichever is lower, and 1,000/ 50% indoors
Ban on spectators remains
Alex Bruce retires
Steve Bruce's son, Alex, has officially hung up his boots.
The 36-year-old took in spells with 13 different clubs over the course of his career.
Second half under way for the u23s
Can the young Magpies come from behind against Norwich?
Alan Pardew appointed as technical director of CSKA Sofia
The former Newcastle United boss has made a left-field move to Bulgaria.
James Milner's comment after Liverpool fixture highlights another Newcastle United issue
James Milner may have been speaking about his own side after depleted Liverpool's impressive 3-0 win against Leicester at Anfield, but, in some ways, the former Newcastle player could have been talking about the Magpies and St James', too.
"It's never been an easy place to come here," he told Sky Sports. "I know that from earlier in my career when I was a vising player.
"We're obviously missing the fans at this moment in time but it shows the intensity that we can bring as a team as well. There's that fire and energy from ourselves and we always know that the fans are there behind us and we know they're watching us now.
"But it's not the same when you don't have that roar so I think that it's impressive that we've kept going even without the fans and hopefully we can keep it going until they're back and they'll give us that extra edge."
Again, to stress, this is certainly not a direct comparison between the champions and Newcastle side who finished in 13th place last season but we need to see more 'fire and energy' from the black-and-whites.
Much of the talk last summer was of Newcastle challenging for the top 10 and while we are only nine games into the new season, it feels like this could be another slog of a campaign.
It is not unreasonable for supporters to expect more.
The worst pundit takes on Newcastle this season and the one who got it right
It’s been an interesting start to the Premier League season for Newcastle United and Steve Bruce.
The club are currently sitting in mid-table, but there’s a growing concern among supporters about the quality of football Bruce’s side is playing and the performances. It would seem that opinion is not shared among some of football’s leading pundits, with many preaching about how good a job Bruce has done.
We decided to vet their claims and evaluate some of the worst opinions about Newcastle from this season, and the one pundit that understands it.
Read the story below.
Mark Gillespie and Elliot Anderson start for NUFC u23s
They take on Norwich City at 1pm.
Fabricio Coloccini helped Ayoze Perez make the Newcastle United decision that changed his life
Ayoze Perez has revealed that Fabricio Coloccini helped convince him to make the 'right decision' and join Newcastle United.
"I was in Tenerife thinking about my future," Perez told Soccer Bible. "I had a few offers. Some were very close to happening.
"FC Porto was a big one that very nearly happened. It was very close. There were also some Spanish teams interested.
"Newcastle got in contact with my agent while that was happening and they told me I was going to be an important player for them in the first team.
"That, together with my dream of playing in the Premier League, made the decision for me. I did think about it a lot and I spoke to Coloccini as well to get his idea.
"At the end of it all, I had to make a decision and it was all about the Premier League. When I look back now, I’m confident I made the right decision."
Predict Newcastle's Premier League results as pressure mounts ahead of Christmas schedule
Mark Douglas' verdict on Allan Saint-Maximin's dip in form
I think it's a bit unfair on Allan Saint-Maximin to connect his dip in form to new contract, as happened on Saturday. Implies he's lost focus but that's not the case: tactics in Burnley MOTM performance suited to him. Since then: Man U, S'ton, Chelsea - wrong system, bad all-round display.
Wolves dreadful as well. Everton he arguably could have impacted the game a bit more but he's NUFC's only creative dynamo. I think the real problems that are impacting performances/results lie elsewhere.
Looking at the run of games coming up the challenge is to get more out of him in matches #nufc should be more open in. Lets see what happens...
Aleksandar Mitrovic opens up on how Newcastle United fans and city left mark despite goals admission
Aleksandar Mitrovic had hoped to score more goals for Newcastle United but the former No 9 will never forget the friends he made while playing for a 'really massive club'.
The Serbia international, who idolised Alan Shearer as a youngster, completed his £13m move from Anderlecht in the summer of 2015.
Mitrovic played right on the edge and the new signing was booked just 22 seconds into his debut against Southampton before being sent off on his next top-flight appearance at St James' Park against Arsenal.
Mitrovic ultimately scored nine Premier League goals in his first season in England as the Magpies were relegated to the Championship.
The striker went on to struggle for for a regular run of starts under Rafa Benitez and joined Fulham on loan in January, 2018 before making his move to Craven Cottage permanent a few months later.
Mitrovic had hoped to make a bigger impact at Newcastle but, regardless, the 26-year-old will always look back on his time in the North East with fondness.
"I didn't play as much as I wanted," the Fulham No 9 told Premier League World.
"I didn't score as many goals as I wanted but, in the end, I made so many friends there.
"The supporters there in the stadium, everything, the city are so lovely. The people are always so kind.
"It's hard as well when it's not going well. It's a tough place to play with a lot of pressure but it's a really massive club."
Hatem Ben Arfa impressed over the weekend
The former NUFC star was doing Hatem Ben Arfa things over the weekend.
Ant and Dec aim cheeky swipe at Steve Bruce
You know things are bad when even Ant and Dec are having a go at Steve Bruce. #NUFC. pic.twitter.com/Iys1BTFju6— (@StevenNUFC) November 22, 2020
Newcastle a 'work in progress', but Aston Villa problems are resurfacing for Steve Bruce
Newcastle United are a 'work in progress' according to TalkSPORT pundit Tony Cascarino.
But the former Republic of Ireland and Marseille forward fears the frustration building among Newcastle fans is similar to what Bruce faced as manager of Aston Villa.
Bruce guided Villa to a play-off final in his first full season at the club but was sacked just three months into the following campaign after a string of poor results and performances.
Newcastle fell to a 2-0 defeat to Chelsea on Saturday and put in the latest in a long line of abject displays.
The Magpies mustered just one shot on target and yielded only 28 per cent of the ball and it followed on from previous poor displays against Southampton, Manchester United, Tottenham and Brighton.
Some fans have lost patience with Bruce, prominent fan groups NUFC 360 and Wor Flags among them, citing Newcastle's lack of ambition and substance.
And when supporter complaints were put to Cascarino by TalkSPORT host Natalie Sawyer, Cascarino offered a reasoned explanation.
"I agree with you to a certain level," Cascarino said.
"Even I think Steve Bruce will consider he wants more and how does he find more from his team?
"It is a work in progress to making them more exciting but he had a lot of problems at Aston Villa.
"A lot of Villa fans will echo what you are saying about the way Villa played and they were cautious in their approach. They needed to be something more and Aston Villa are similar to Newcastle in terms of history, Jackie Milburn and the Kevin Keegan era.
"Unbelievable attacking teams and that is what Steve has the challenge of trying to build for the fans of his football club plus being very effective."
Steve Bruce eager to shake off ugly statistic ahead of Crystal Palace encounter
Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce has warned his players they must shake off their record of conceding goals in the first 10 minutes after they failed to set the tone in another Premier League clash - this time against Chelsea.
Bruce's side slumped to their fifth home defeat in seven matches in the top-flight but this is the FIFTH time they have leaked a goal within 10 minutes of the kick off.
Bruce will take his side to Crystal Palace on Friday night and will been to hammer a certain statistic home ahead of the clash at Selhurst Park.
"It’s something we’re going to have to address.
"Before we even start, we’re a goal down, so we’ll have to have a look at that and start better.
"It is a frustration, and we’ve got to make sure we get back to that defensive organisation that keeps you in a game."
Alan Shearer reveals the three things Newcastle United need to get 'anywhere near' again
Alan Shearer believes it will take time, 'a lot of expense' and new players to get Newcastle United back to 'anywhere near' what the Magpies were under Sir Bobby Robson.
With Shearer leading the line, Newcastle finished fourth, third and fifth in the Premier League between 2002 and 2004, and the black-and-whites also reached the last 16 of the Champions League and the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup.
Of course, the landscape has changed dramatically since then - Newcastle have twice been relegated under Mike Ashley's ownership - and the Magpies' last European adventure was in 2013, when Alan Pardew's side made it to the Europa League quarter-finals.
Even Steve Bruce has admitted that last summer's proposed takeover would have been 'life-changing' for the club, but Shearer believes his former side can still offer more going forward with the players they have.
"Newcastle are not a great football team," he told BBC Radio 5 Live ahead of the Magpies' 2-0 defeat against Chelsea. "We know that. It's going to take time and a lot of expense and money and new players to get them anywhere near what they were some 15 or 20 years ago. Whatever it was.
"When you look at the opposition that they're up against, the money that they've spent, the talent that they have in their side, to go head-to-head or toe-to-toe with Chelsea and say, 'OK, we're going to go and try and play against you. We're going to open up'.
"Those players will cut you open if you do that so I understand why Newcastle try and sit deep and try and soak pressure up, but they've got to try and get the balance right in terms of offering more when they do have the ball going forward. There's more to the game than just hitting teams on the break. You've got to try and cause them problems.
"We saw it at Tottenham where they soaked up so much pressure. How on earth they got a point in the end? We don't know. This is where it helps or it doesn't help not having any fans in the stadium.
"I use the example when Newcastle played Man United at St James'. They get the early goal. The stadium would have been rocking then but there's no one in there. Newcastle sit back, invite pressure on and we know what happened after that.
"Newcastle got battered but that's where the fans would have helped. When that early goal was scored, they would have been right onside. Newcastle would have been able to attack. That's why they're sadly missed."
The worrying numbers behind Allan Saint-Maximin's dip in form since signing new Newcastle deal
The deal extends until 2026 and was a show of support and intent towards one of Newcastle’s most exciting and impactful players. But Saint-Maximin’s performances since that time have not lived up to expectations.
In the final game before signing his contract, the winger devastated Burnley in a scintillating performance, scoring once, creating another goal, and, per FBREF, carrying the ball for more than 350 progressive yards.
Since then, in five matches, Saint-Maximin is yet to score. He has carried the ball for 180 progressive yards or less in every match and has totalled 0.7 expected goals and 0.3 expected assists.
Saint-Maximin has created four chances across the five games and still dribbled well, too. He has completed seven, four, two, five, and one dribbles respectively and still ranks among the very best dribblers in the Premier League.
His shot-creating-actions are still relatively impressive, too. He has totalled 11 shot-creating actions across the five games and has provided at least one in every game.
Where Saint-Maximin has declined is in his retention of possession. He has 10 miscontrols, which are defined as failed attempts to gain control of the ball, and 14 dispossessions, which are defined as the number of times an opposing player has won the ball away from him, not including dribble attempts.
Saint-Maximin’s work-rate has not seemingly dropped, however. Against Southampton, he made 22 pressures, the second-most of the team. Never has he made fewer than seven pressures. Beforehand, only once did he top that figure, and that was eight against Brighton.
Perhaps, then, the cause of Saint-Maximin’s troubles since signing a new contract is a greater, systemic one. Newcastle have scored just four goals in their last five games. They had a higher expected goals than 0.7 just once and never had above 40% possession.
Read the full story below...