While football fans are a typically pessimistic bunch, even Newcastle United supporters are sitting a little more comfortably in their chairs when discussing the Magpies’ future.
The investment from the new owners helps, that goes without saying, but that shouldn’t detract from the excellent job that Eddie Howe has done at St James’ Park so far.
Now nine points clear of the dropzone, Newcastle’s formline reads W7 D5 L6 since Howe took over on November 8, and that 1.44 point per game ratio – if applied since the start of the season – would have the Magpies comfortably in the top half of the table.
No wonder they are now considered outsiders by those betting on Premier League relegation at odds of 22/1.
Clearly, the new manager and his coaching team deserve immense credit for that, but the new players who have been brought in have made a monumental difference.
Kieran Trippier looked every inch the class act he is prior to getting injured, while Dan Burn and Matt Targett have added quality from a defensive perspective. And Chris Wood, while not among the goalscorers as yet, has been central to the way that Howe wants his team to play.
And then we have Bruno Guimaraes…
Newcastle fans know as well as anybody that players with a lofty reputation and heftier price tag can still prove incredibly disappointing.
At around £42 million, the fear is/was that Bruno would fall into that camp – especially as he’s only really had a season and a half of European football at Lyon.
But the 24-year-old has settled in very nicely already, and according to the stats has already become a key figure both in defence and attack.
The deep-lying playmaker has already accumulated 0.9 in the Expected Goals (xG) tally – ranking him eleventh in Newcastle’s squad despite having played just 290 minutes of football.
The Brazilian also ranks second for xG and Expected Assists per 90 minutes and first for Shots per 90, and while that’s down partly to such a small sample size, it’s encouraging for Geordies to see just how well Bruno has settled in the North East.
For more context, he has played five successful passes into the opposition’s 18-yard box – just one less than Miguel Almiron, who has been a regular starter all season long, and he has the third-best pass completion rate out of the entire squad.
Talk about making an early impact…
Bruno is brave in possession too, switching long balls from one flank to the other and drawing plenty of fouls as well – crucial in taking the pressure off defensively and allowing for a ‘reset’.
His form has not gone unnoticed, and the midfielder won his sixth cap for Brazil in a World Cup qualifier against Bolivia in March. And, true to form, Guimaraes was the most eye-catching performer on the pitch – scoring a goal, assisting another for Lucas Paqueta and clinching the Man of the Match trophy for his efforts.
So how good is Bruno Guimaraes? The numbers speak for themselves… and the hope is that there’s plenty more where that came from.
B L E S S E D 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/ZZLccWt5go— Bruno Guimarães (@brunoog97) March 30, 2022