SC Braga (a) Friendly
time: Os Arcebispos
0 Magpies 0
Full time: Os Arcebispos 4 Magpies 0
"Things are not going well off the pitch - Iím worried.
"You see the teams that have been promoted, the money they are spending. Put it all together and you understand why the fans need to be concerned.
"We are concerned. Everyone in the dressing room was really upset with our performance and with how things are going, but we will try to change things in the next 10 days.
"Am I optimistic, thinking
that in ten days, we can do what we didnít do in two months? I donít think
so. But, still, I think itís obvious we need people, we need bodies.
What still needs to be done:
"A lot. For me, I said before, three or four players."
The latest on transfers:
"I donít know. We have been working for months - sometimes we can sign players, sometimes we cannot. At the moment, I donít know."
Abel Ferreira said:
"We did good things, but we also made
mistakes. We did a good game, but we gave the opponents many
Newcastle suffered their first pre-season defeat in the striking setting of Braga's Municipal Stadium on Wednesday night - but events on the field were soon overshadowed bymanager Rafa Benitez and the tone of his post-match press conference quotes.
Comments from the Magpies boss about the limitations of his squad had come hours before the game against St. Patrick's Athletic in Dublin and he was similarly exasperated in Portugal a fortnight later.
The relationship - or lack of it - between Benitez and his employers is becoming increasingly fractured, his barely-disguised contempt for them now evident over their deliberate attempt to undermine him in the transfer market following the breakdown of contract extension negotiations.
On the field, a second successive failure to register a goal amplified ongoing concerns about our scoring prowess, albeit that conceding two late goals gave the result a slightly distorted look.
A scoreless first half contained chances for a United side for whom all ten outfield players featured for the club in the Championship two seasons ago - a pointed and potentially political selection.
Ayoze Perez and Matt Ritchie had early shots saved, while Dwight Gayle - playing after an alleged move to West Bromwich Albion broke down - found space and had a chance to play in Perez, only for his pass to hit Christian Atsu instead.
Martin Dubravka made a fine save in the 17th minute and three minutes later Perez spurned an open goal after Ritchie's cross had been missed by the keeper.
The home side went closest to an opener in the searing heat - 33 degrees at kick-off - when Wilson cut inside and hit a low 26th minute shot that struck the post, Ciaran Clark clearing from within his own six yard box soon after as the Europa League qualifiers tried to fashion an opener.
United made one change at the break, Fabian Schar replacing Jamaal Lascelles who had earlier received some treatment for a shoulder injury.
Seven minutes after the restart the hosts took the lead when Horta fired in and the same player should have scored again from closer range soon after, only to blast over the bar with the goal opening up.
Wilson then looked certain to score in the 71st minute but fired wide, although the linesman belatedly flagged him offside.
Ki Sung-yueng had replaced Isaac Hayden and took a free-kick from 25 yards that was pushed out by Matheus and a follow-up shot was deflected wide.
Joselu - on for Gayle - had the ball in the net but Perez had already been flagged before squaring it and Joao Novais then gave Braga a decisive 2-0 advantage with 13 minutes remaining.
Fransergio headed home the third from a free-kick that Clark was booked for and Dyego Sousa wrapped up the scoring in the final seconds of play as our defence was left flat-footed.
There aren't many positives to take from this outcome, but if nothing else we were arguably more threatening than in Saturday's scoreless draw at Porto - albeit looking anything but potent as an attacking force.
Inserting Kenedy and Jonjo Shelvey to this side would surely improve our creativity and tempo, while the imminent arrival of Yoshinori Muto at least partially expands options in the striking department.
What cannot be ignored though is the lack of depth resulting in players with no realistic chance of playing barring a disastrous run of injuries featuring here - a situation where inferior players have senior squad numbers under false pretences should kid no-one.
Quite what effect Rafa's comments regarding the need for multiple signings is having on the morale of the current senior squad is unclear, but their collective refusal to conduct post-match media interviews here was an unexpected and worrying development.
The Chronicle report that the refusal stemmed from an ongoing dispute over player bonuses - echoing a similar problem that saw Lascelles having to phone Mike Ashley in September 2017.
On a night when the club registered their biggest pre-season loss since the 1-6 humiliation at Leyton Orient in 2009 though, it's worth recalling the events in the away dressing room at Brisbane Road that day when the squad ended up being dividing itself into remainers and leavers.
Looking in from the outside, there's a touch of the uncertainty and lack of leadership from the club that characterised that immediate post-Shearer era, while Rafa's current demeanour echoes that Kevin Keegan in 2008, as the rug was steadily and deliberately pulled out from under him.
These are worrying and uncertain times. As usual.