So, the Steve McClaren era got underway in the unlikely surroundings of the Gateshead International Stadium as a subdued but good turnout of United faithful showed up to witness another slice of Magpie history. Well done to those who came along, you have supported football on Tyneside. A strong Gateshead helps Newcastle United.
There were some familiar faces on show as United kept the promise to play a good proportion of first teamers with Lascelles and Darlow taking their bows at this game of the 2015/16 pre-season before United head stateside.
I’m too long in the tooth these days not to rush to many conclusions with pre-season friendlies and although the game ended with only an early Papiss Cisse penalty separating the two Geordie teams I think that was more down to the profligacy of who we had getting in scoring positions than anything else. Sissoko missed a sitter in the first half and to be fair, the Gateshead goalies Russell and Macdonald both did well.
In terms of overall play, I thought we were competent without being eye-catching. We kept the ball and passed it quite well but to be fair to Gateshead they were well organised, committed and good opposition for this type of game at this time of the year. This game, I’d hope would become a regular feature for the first team’s pre-season preparations – it works on a number of levels.
For me there were more positives to take from this game than any negatives of failing to score from open play. De Jong and Aarons played and they can be important for us next season if they retain their fitness. Cisse was back on a football pitch and managed not to hockle at any one. We got looks at youngsters Woodman, Satka and Good playing alongside regular PL players.
Obviously it’s great to bump into the familiar Mag faces again and on a barmy Friday night Gateshead was a good way to kick into the new season. In terms of the mood of our support, I’d suggest the long-awaited but apparently imminent breakthrough in the transfer market plus perhaps soothing words of reassurance from Steve McClaren at the Fans Forum sham may have taken the edge off any anger hanging over from last season but at the final whistle there were still a couple of flags of protest amongst the United contingent.
Many have lost it completely with United and have chucked it, some are running on empty in terms of enthusiasm for those running the club (as opposed to the institution of Newcastle United and its potential) and there are those frankly who whistle to keep themselves cheerful.
We can call each other names on social media, accuse each other of negativity, delusion but it is all white noise. The only people who can really change anything at Newcastle United are Mike Ashley, Lee Charnley, Graeme Carr, Steve McClaren and the players.
They have a month to get the squad in good order for the new season.
Newcastle United: Darlow (Woodman 46), Janmaat (Bigirimana 46), Haidara (Ferguson 46), Lascelles (Satka 46), Williamson (Good 46), Anita (Tiote 46), Colback (Armstrong 46), Gouffran (Aarons 46), Cisse (Perez 46), Sissoko (Riviere 46), De Jong (Obertan 46).
Unused Sub: Vuckic
MICHAEL MARTIN – Follow on @tfeditor1892