It’s fair to say this hasn’t exactly been the smoothest of summers for Newcastle United. The Magpies have spent the last six weeks or so planning protests and demonstrating outside St James’ Park following the departure of Rafael Benitez and the collapse of yet another “takeover”.
However, the last two weeks or so have seen things start to look up. With a few new signings through the door and back-to-back wins in the last two friendlies, maybe all is not lost.
First through the door, nearly two weeks back now, was Joelinton. The Brazilian striker signed from Hoffenheim for a club record £40million. Although there was some push-back from certain sections of the fan base, they’ll be a little more excited following his last two pre-season games.
In mid-week, he started against Hibernian and bagged a goal. This afternoon, he notched again as United ran out 2-1 winners over French outfit Saint Etienne. Two goals in two games is a more than ideal start for the Brazilian – if he can replicate that in the Premier League, he’ll be an instant hit.
Next through the door was young midfielder Kyle Scott. He joined NUFC on a free having been released by Chelsea last month – reports suggest he could be a very tasty player but is most definitely one for the future. He was joined by goalkeeper Jake Turner who also joined having left Bolton. Both players will likely join the U23 side where they will compete for a place in the first team.
Yesterday afternoon, having been repeatedly linked with him over the last four or so years, United announced the loan signing of left-back Jetro Willems from Eintracht Frankfurt. It came pretty out of the blue, with the press not picking up on it until yesterday morning.
An hour or so after that, the club announced the signing of the exciting young French winger, Allan Saint-Maximin. He joins for a reported £20million and will add a touch of flair, excitement and a whole lot of pace to that United attack.
It’s been relatively mixed for Steve Bruce’s side in pre-season as they’ve played five, won three and lost two. There was an impressive win over West Ham out in China during the Asia Trophy, as well as the 3-1 victory over Hibernian at Easter Road in mid-week followed by today’s great result at home to Saint Etienne.
During the matches, Bruce has trialled a few different formations – most of which have involved either a three-man or five-man defence, depending on how defensive they decide to play. Today’s game, followed by his post-match comments, seem to suggest they’ll be sticking with the same formation they played today – which looked like a 5-3-2.
Judging by that, if Bruce wants to play all of his best players in every game, I’d imagine the team sheet will look a little something like this next Sunday:
All-in-all, this summer has been a tough grind for the fans of Newcastle United and despite the fact things are far from perfect, they’re better. The club have made the moves in the transfer market they so desperately needed, and don’t seem to be finished there.
After today’s game, Bruce told media that things were still “bubbling away” for United in the transfer market. He also told media he’s not looking to add another striker as the team are “well stocked” in that area and mentioned that he wants to keep Dwight Gayle on Tyneside.
It isn’t time to break out the cans just yet, but as far as I’m concerned, things on Tyneside are a lot better than they were three/four weeks back. Some exciting new players on the books, youngsters performing well in pre-season and above all, they’ve got that winning feeling back. It doesn’t matter who the opposition is, there’s always something to be said for having that winning mentality.