Erik ten Hag provoked a prickly response from Eddie Howe when he called Newcastle United an ‘annoying team to play against’ before the Carabao Cup final in February.
The Manchester United manager joined other Premier League bosses in expressing concern about the Magpies’ time-wasting tactics.
Howe predictably hit back by saying that criticism of his team’s ‘game management’ had been overblown by the media.
Based on a new study by Opta Analyst, Ten Hag and his Premier League counterparts were bang on the money – Newcastle’s players are a bunch of time-wasters.
Their research revealed that the ball is in play for just over 51 minutes in Newcastle games – the lowest tally of any Premier League team.
While it could be argued that it takes two to tango during a match, digging deeper into the data points the finger firmly at Newcastle.
The average delay time before restarting play in Newcastle games is a whopping 29.9 seconds – only Brentford (31.4) have a higher average.
The Magpies take an average of 36.8 seconds to take goal kicks, more than three seconds longer than any other Premier League team.
While Howe was quick to bite back at Ten Hag, his players are clearly under instructions to engage in the ‘dark arts’ wherever possible.
There have been plenty of debates regarding the issue of time-wasting, and something must be done to ensure fans are not short-changed.
A stop-clock system, similar to the one used in North American sports, has been cited as a potential solution to the issue.
Placing a time limit on restarting the game is another option, although some elements such as the award of free-kicks would require a more nuanced approach.
Eradicating time-wasting from football should be a priority for the sport’s rulers to ensure that Howe and other culprits do not continue to benefit from their underhanded tactics.
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