MATCH REPORT: Pre-season friendly, Bloomfield Road, 28/Jul/13, KO: 3pm.
As with most pre-seasons at NUFC the more worrying stuff is coming off the field in the shape of investment (or complete and utter lack of) player fitness and in some cases complete absence of others. Whilst the rumbling saga of Papiss Cisse’s shirt dispute has been another cloud over the summer, the whereabouts of Ben Arfa were not explained and not too widely discussed yesterday. Our playmaker, and let’s be honest only real game changer, was nowhere to be seen beside the seaside. The team that lined up was a decent one, but one which once again asked more questions than it answered and left most of us questioning what, if any tactics we have and are going to have in the coming season.
We started the game brightly and passed the ball around neatly enough without being overly threatening even against very moderate opposition as once again we seemed to lack any pace or clever movement up front. Hardly surprising is it with Shola ambling around up front? But, credit where it’s due he opened the scoring for his 3rd in 3 pre-season games when Cabaye’s cross was headed across the area by Mike Williamson and he duly slotted into the corner. The rest of the half was pedestrian to say the least but Elliot made a great save from a Craig Cathcart header and Tom Ince wasted the first of two good chances that fell his way. We did have the ball in the net again nearing the end of the first half but a slightly dubious offside flag caused it be ruled out.
Half time and once again some of our ‘support’ decided that the best way to cap off a great weekend would be to throw beer around and get involved in a stand-off with the police. Now, i am getting this second hand from a mate as i stayed in my seat but the whole thing just doesn’t make us look very good. Also at half-time (more normally) Haris Vuckic replaced Shola and played just off Gouffran for most of the second half.
The second half matched the first for drabness and the hot weather and copious alcohol that had been taken on seemed to jade me but i couldn’t help that nagging feeling that we are in big bother this season. We don’t look energised and don’t seem to have enough pace and movement up front if Cisse is unfit. We desperately need a striker and i would argue 2 wingers, as well as a full back to cover and a strong centre half as only Blackpool’s lack of firepower stopped them scoring with Mike Williamson in as cover for the suspended Coloccini. The home side did have the ball in the net only to see it ruled out for the same reason as Sissoko’s and Tom Ince should have really scored near the end but dragged his shot wide.
As we all remarked on the train on the way there and in the pub beforehand ‘This is the best part of the day’. Once again with Newcastle United we were right. A drab affair on the pitch but great fun off it. Although as Morrissey once said ‘This is the seaside town, that they forgot to bomb’. Poor bastards having to put up with drunken idiots all the time. At least they were drunken Geordie idiots. Hmmmm.
Newcastle United: Rob Elliot, Mathieu Debuchy, Mike Williamson (Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa 81), Steven Taylor, Davide Santon (Paul Dummett 61), Sylvain Marveaux, Yohan Cabaye (SammyAmeobi 73), Moussa Sissoko, Jonas Gutierrez, Yoan Gouffran (Adam Campbell 84), Shola Ameobi (Haris Vuckic 46).
Unused Sub: Jak Alnwick.
DAVID X SMITH