There are many subplots to Newcastle’s renaissance this season. Benitez’s decision to stay on as manager after relegation. Their rocky start to the campaign before turning the corner. Jonjo Shelvey’s comeback. Coping with the pressure of being labelled ‘favourites’. One story though, that has surprised many is the goal scoring run of Dwight Gayle. His summer transfer move went a little under the radar (thanks, Pogba!) but Gayle is on course to smash the Championship goal scoring record.
Dwight Gayle is in a bright neon-purple patch. The former Arsenal graduate is doing the famous number 9 shirt of Newcastle proud. 11 goals scored in only 12 games. This sounds even more impressive when you realise that Gayle is currently netting a goal every 94 minutes. During the 12 games, he’s managed 39 shots in total, with 23 hitting the target. In theory, he could actually improve on his current goal-to-minute ratio.
How do his stats compare? In second place in the Championship, Tommy Abraham has scored 8 goals. His goals come every 139 minutes. In third place, Scott Hogan also sits on 8 goals,with one coming every 158 minutes. Gayle is simply head and shoulders above the competition. In the Premier League, Diego Costa leads the way with 7 goals. His goal-to-minute ratio is 113 minutes, 19 minutes behind Gayle.
FROM ESSEX TO ST JAMES’ park
Dwight Gayle hasn’t had a straightforward career. He dropped down the leagues after not making it in the Premier League. Gayle was released by Arsenal and then found himself in the NINTH tier of English football. From dreaming of playing alongside Van Persie to kitting out for Stansted F.C in the Essex Senior League. At the age of 19, Gayle looked like another “could have been” story.
57 goals. The number Gayle scored in the 2010-2011 for Stansted F.C. Opposition defences must have breathed a collective sigh of relief when Gayle was picked up by League 2 side, Dagenham & Redbridge. It still wasn’t plain sailing from there. Gayle was immediately loaned out back to non-league football. 29 goals in 42 games for Bishop’s Stortford meant that the boy from Walthamstow could no longer be ignored.
Gayle started the 2012-2013 season as a first team player for Dagenham & Redbridge. After 7 goals in 18 games, he was snapped in November up by the Championship side, Peterborough. Initially on loan, the Posh were quick to sign him permanently for a reported £500,000 after Gayle scored 7 goals in 9 matches. The goals would continue to flow until another move was arranged only seven months later.
Crystal Palace had just been promoted to the Premier League. Gayle had gone from playing in the Essex Senior League to the top-tier of English football in two years. The fee was £4.5m, a record for Palace at the time. Unfortunately for Gayle, he would become a bit-part player. Over the course of three seasons, he would play the full ninety minutes only seven times. Gayle still managed a respectful 15 goals in 64 appearances.
CHAMPIONSHIP GOAL SCORING RECORD
The current inception of the Championship (the old Second Division) was in 2004. The average number of goals it takes to take the golden boot for the division is 25. On the lowest end of the scale, Peter Whittingham of all people, shared the award with Bristol City’s Nicky Maynard in the 2009-2010 season. They each scored 20 goals. Whittingham achieved this from midfield, with the help of a few penalties.
Step forward, Glenn Murray! There is a Crystal Palace theme to this article. In the 2012-2013 season, Murray set the current Championship record for goals with 30 strikes. Now playing for Brighton, the talisman is still firing them in. This season, Murray has six goals to his name. His goal-to-minute ratio is exactly 180, which means he is the perfect “goal every other game” striker.
GAYLE’S OWN AMBITION
After his incredible start to the season, Gayle is keeping his feet firmly on the ground. After scoring two against Brentford, he said:
“Twenty is where you start as a striker and I just want to be winning games for the team. The main thing for me is not even goals, I just want to get promoted and get back up to the Premier League with the club.
“But yes, 20 is a good marker personally. We need to score goals to get promoted and I’m happy to help out but we’ve got other great players in there as well”
While Gayle is currently stealing all the headlines, this Newcastle side has considerable strength in depth. Jonjo Shelvey has had many critics in the past. However, it’s hard not to be impressed by the ex-Liverpool player’s performances this season. Gayle was quick to credit the play maker:
“Jonjo will help me. He has been fantastic every week. He’s always looking for me and he’s got a fantastic range of passes. At the beginning of the season he hadn’t got me an assist and I was constantly getting into his head before the game to say, ‘Get me an assist — help me out.’
“The last few weeks he’s been fantastic and he’s picked me out a number of times. Everyone’s behind me and the team’s helping out fantastically in terms of assists and the quality in the team is fantastic.”
5 REASONS WHY THE RECORD WILL FALL
- Newcastle are the best team in the league. By a distance.
- He’s their main striker. Mitrovic typically sits on the bench (safest place for him!).
- His start has been electric. Even against top sides, Gayle finds the net (3 versus Norwich).
- Benitez is the league’s best manager. He knows how to keep Gayle firing
- The team creates so many chances. When you have Perez, Ritchie and Shelvey behind you, opportunities will come.
The question should possibly be if Dwight Gayle can go ‘full Zlatan‘ and score 40 league goals this season? Glenn Murray’s record should surely fall unless the new Geordie hero gets injured.
What do you think? Will Dwight Gayle break the Championship goal scoring record for Newcastle this season?
Dagenham photo: Daggers
Palace photo: SkySports
Photo by nyaa_birdies_perch
Photo by Ben Sutherland
Photo by Tom Brogan
Photo by Ben Sutherland
Photo by Ronnie Macdonald