On the eve of this season’s campaign, ex footballer and friend of Shefki Kuqi, Robbie Savage, gave his Premier League predictions to Betfair. In a piece titled ‘Premier League Betting: Newcastle are going down‘, Savage predicted a grim return to the Premier League for the Championship winners:
“I think Newcastle will go down, they were the stand-out team in the league but we beat them 3-0 at home and drew at their place. Unless they add ten or 12 squad players they could come down. I wasn’t that impressed with them, although they ran away with the league, when we played them we absolutely battered them here and I think they will struggle“.
So while acknowledging that Newcastle “ran away with the league“, Savage, defying logic and reason, instead opted to base his opinion of Newcastle’s Premier League credentials on two meetings with his Derby side in the Championship, rather than the more reflective indicator of league form, of which Newcastle won 30 of the 46 games played.
Savage also proved to be some way off in his estimation about Newcastle’s squad and their need to add “ten or 12 squad players” or “they could come down“, presumably ignoring that Newcastle gained promotion through quality rather than quantity. In fact, with then manager Chris Hughton somehow resisting the advice given by the former Birmingham and Blackburn player, Newcastle began their Premier League season with the same amount of bodies, five came in (James Perch, Dan Gosling, Sol Campbell, Cheik Tiote and Hatem Ben Arfa) and five went out (Fabrice Pancrate, Nicky Butt, Fitz Hall, Fraser Forster, Kazenga Lua Lua).
In January another two came in (Stephen Ireland and Shefki Kuqi) but this was levelled with two going out (Andy Carroll and Wayne Routledge), meaning that Newcastle started and ended the season still short of the “ten or 12 players” suggested by Savage and were therefore surely destined to “struggle“. As we now know, this proved incorrect, as Newcastle, although having to look over their shoulders at times, ensured survival reasonably comfortably with two games to play and have a chance of a top 10 finish going into the final game of the season.
Few could have predicted that Newcastle would adapt so well on their return to Premier League football and it would be somewhat churlish to critique all the inaccurate foresights made by pundits, however it is not so much the incorrect predictions from Savage that irk but more the lazy and hairbrained logic behind them: ‘we beat you so, even though you cruised the league, you will go down unless you buy a whole new team’.
On that basis, I would like to predict that Chelsea will struggle next season as they only managed two draws out of their three fixtures with Newcastle this season. Unique insight, worthy of winning a Sony biggest rising star of British Radio award, I’m sure you would agree…
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