Premier League: Newcastle’s Steve Bruce for Manager of the Year Award

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By looking at nearly every statistical measure and by watching them on the pitch, Newcastle United should be at the very bottom of the Premier League table. Thanks to a childhood fan turned journeyman manager, they are safely mid-table.

Twenty-four matchdays have been completed in the Premier League. There have been enough matches played at this point for certain analytical themes to be proven or tossed out like five-week-old lettuce.

One theme that gets played out season after season is the theme where a clubs advanced statistics do not match their actual results on the pitch or place in the standings. At the beginning of a campaign, it is something to watch for and a hypothesis to be proven over time. Such was the case with Newcastle United.

Through the Premier League season, I have poured through the analytics of the Magpies and looked at their place in the table and came to a hypothesis that eventually they will crash. More specifically, I thought that with this analytics it’s clear this team in the zebra colored kit had to meet expectations. So far, it still hasn’t happened.

So when the tangible does not give one the answers, then one has to look at the intangible. The first place to start when looking at the intangibles of a football club is its manager.

The Tangible Numbers

According to FBref.com, this is where Newcastle stands in the Premier League:

  • Last (out of 20 clubs) in expected goals (xG)
  • 18th in expected goals against (xGA)
  • Last in expected goal differential (xGDiff)
  • Last in expected goal differential per 90 minutes (xGDiff/90)
  • Last in non-penalty expected goals per 90 minutes (npxG)
  • Last in non-penalty expected goals plus expected assists per 90 minutes (npxG+xA)
  • Last in passes into the penalty area;
  • 19th in passes into the opponent’s third of the field
  • Last in corner kicks taken
  • Last in completion percentage of long passes (over 25 yards)
  • 18th in completion percentage of medium passes (5-25 yards)
  • 19th in pass completion percentage
  • 19th in corner kicks goals against
  • 19th in post-shot expected goals.

On top of everything else, the Magpies are also placed last in the league, per understat.com, in expected points.

These numbers are relegation level standards.

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