MATCH REPORT: Estádio dos Arcos, 20/Jul/13, Pre-season Friendly, 2013/14 . No-one should really get too worked up about these games and results as they are barely proper matches and little more than glorified kick-a-rounds as far as I’m concerned. We should neither celebrate the wins as at Motherwell nor mourn the defeats as we had out in Portugal.
That said, this pre-season period is vital for building up fitness and developing a sense of spirit in the camp as we head into a new and for some players and certainly the manager, a pivotal season in their careers.
On that score, the on-going mismanagement of Newcastle United is laid bare. Not a single new signing with the squad, Cisse in the naughty corner back on Tyneside and Joe Kinnear now back at work following an unbelievable holiday in the transfer window still labouring to bring in players.
Pre-season matches are an opportunity for the manager to experiment with the shape of the team and its tactics but I’d very much doubt and for that matter, pray we wouldn’t go into the Premiership season with Yoan Gouffran (lightweight and probably not good enough) leading United’s attack with Vuckic on his shoulder as we started last night. It’s not exactly Macdonald-Tudor, Milburn-Robledo, Cole-Beardsley, Shearer-Ferdinand or Shearer-Bellamy is it? Hell, it’s not even Kelly-Peacock or Carroll-Nolan!
Last season our goals against column was the worst it’s ever been in a Premiership season and if I’m not very much mistaken, the worst in the Premiership, though I’ve not had time to double-check that. When we put a back-four out minus Colo we just seem to leak goals and so in two friendlies so far this summer we’ve leaked two at Motherwell and after 4-mins at Rio Avenue, Alnwick was picking the ball out of the net for the first time and after 26 mins doing so for the third time. This is not encouraging.
There seems some doubt that the hapless Williamson fouled his man inside the box for the penalty but give praise to Elliot for his penalty save and keeping the score down.
We may have tightened up in the second-half and even got one back with a rare Shola goal but I’ll confess to my heart sinking on learning the seriousness of Ameobi’s injury to his hand. My concern isn’t due to any belief in what Shola can do for us next season, whatever the Fenham Eusebio might once have had has gone and he can barely put 20 mins in without picking up a knock and the injuries which have pock-marked his career now mark him more of a liability than an asset to the club. No, my concern is this injury will keep him at United and on the payroll when it seems clear Ashley has instructed Kinnear to ensure players are cleared off the wage-bill before adding to it. Shola is on a reputed £25K pw which is modest compared to many others in the PL but not at Ashley’s United where we are in a state of permanent poverty despite the full-house signs going up every home game and bumper TV deals.
For that reason alone, the 3-1 score-line is the least of our worries. Next up, Yoan Gouffran and Adam Campbell lead the line for Newcastle United. Great!
Newcastle United: Jak Alnwick (Rob Elliot 46), Davide Santon (Mike Williamson 70), Yohan Cabaye (Chieck Tiote 46), Vurnon Anita (Adam Campbell 76), Yoan Gouffran (Shola Ameobi 62), Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Sylvain Marveaux (Gabriel Obertan 46), Steven Taylor, Haris Vuckic (Moussa Sissoko 46), Paul Dummett, Jonas Gutierrez (Sammy Ameobi 46).
Attendance: Under 2000