It’s no secret that Newcastle play better away from home than at home, but why is that the case? I’ve been wondering this and I’ll be exploring it in this article.
One of the theories I have is that when teams come to St James’ Park they come and park the bus from kick off and try to score on the counter. This invites complacency on Newcastle which allows the away side to nick a goal. However when Newcastle play away, the home sides play more attacking football as they’re in their home stadium with a bigger crowd behind them. So because these teams are more open and attacking, they won’t be focusing on defending as much which Newcastle can expose as they have the best attack in the league.
Another factor I believe affects the team is the atmosphere. At times St James’ Park can be full of negative fans which creates a dead atmosphere that must have an effect on the players. Whereas Newcastle’s away support is simply world class. This should encourage the players to kick on and get a result. It may not seem like it, but atmosphere is crucial.
Obviously if I’m making points like this, I’ve got to back them up with examples. Here are two matches that back up my points. The first example I’ve chosen is Huddersfield away. Manager David Wagner and Huddersfield play a very high pressing game, à la Jurgen Klopp. Because of this, Newcastle were on their toes for the full 90 minutes. They defended compactly, giving Huddersfield no space to play their game, meaning all of their shots were too far away to trouble Darlow. Like I mentioned earlier, they played better because they were facing a more attacking team.
The other example I’ve chosen is Leeds at home. Yes, it was a home match but it fits the narrative of this article. Again, Leeds weren’t sitting back and trying to counter, they were attempting to attack and score. This meant Newcastle had to be very aware defensively which they did, with Mbemba putting in a top class performance. This was arguably Newcastle’s performance of the season as they were defensively solid and created a lot of chances, and were very unlucky not to score two or three more. Along with this, St James’ had a positive tone which fits in with the points I’ve made. In the end, unfortunately, Newcastle lost out to a late Chris Wood equalizer. Nevertheless, it was a very good performance which the Toon can be proud of.
Featured image credit: Andrew Curtis