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Season 2019-20
St. Etienne (France) (a)


Saturday 3rd August 2019, 3.00pm

 St. James' Park

Conditions: Surprisingly enjoyable
Admission: £10 adults, £5 concessions
(£20 and £10 on match day)



St. Etienne

2 - 1




39 mins Some classic route one football gave United the lead, Fabian Schar deep in his own half when he spotted Joelinton scampering forward in the right channel and found him with a fine pass. 

Outrunning two defenders, he forced it beyond the advancing 'keeper Stephane Ruffier and into the Leazes End goal with another touch inside the six yard box. A solitary Brazilian flag was raised in the Strawberry Corner, but there were no signs of any sombreros. 1-0

Half time: Magpies 1 Les Verts 0

74 mins A forward dribble and neat backheel from Allan Saint-Maximin near the Strawberry Corner gave possession to Jetro Willems and he fed to Sean Longstaff on the corner of the visitors' area. He took two touches before pinging a pass infield to his brother, Matty Longstaff.

The substitute had been on the field for just a matter of seconds when he received the ball, took a steadying touch and unleashed a right-footed screamer that flew into the roof of the net. 2-0

85 mins
Arnaud Nordin and
Denis Bouanga worked a short flag kick in the North Western corner, the former sending over a cross that Mathieu Debuchy nodded in as our defence dozed off completely. 

The 34 year-old former Magpie didn't indulge in any celebrations, but that may have been due to him being knackered rather than showing his respect to his old club....2-1

Full time: Magpies 2 Les Verts 1

We Said



Steve Bruce said:

"We missed far too many chances but overall Iím very pleased. Joelinton will drive me crazy at times but heís got electrifying pace and gets people on the edge of their seats.

"I accept Iím not Rafa, not everyoneís cup of tea and itíll be different, certainly not as quiet, against Arsenal next Sunday. But Iím delighted to be here and Iíll do my best.

"The whole squad have implemented what we've asked. 

"Second half I enjoyed. First half was a typical pre-season friendly where everyone was asleep, but second half we played with energy and intensity. 

"We could have been worthy winners by a few more. Overall I was very, very pleased.

"The players have been excellent, the staff around the club and everybody has been positive towards me. I can only say a big thank you. Theyíve made the three weeks Iíve been here very comfortable and easy.Ē

"A managerís job is always to knock on the door
(and ask for players). Iím delighted with what weíve brought in - three bits of real quality - and anything else would be a bonus.

"I've got to name a 25-man squad by the end of this week with three goalkeepers, so I've got to disappoint some players which is the awful side of the job. All of them to a tee have really had a go but I can only pick 22.

"Make no mistake, it'll be totally different against Arsenal next week - but we're in good fettle."

On Ritchie:

"Itís his hamstring and, as I said at the time, if heís going off, there is something wrong. Whether heíll be right for Arsenal remains to be seen.Ē

On Hayden:

"Heís up for staying. We want to give him a new contract."

On Matty Longstaff:

"If there's been a young one that has impressed me, it's been him. We were just laughing at him - we didn't know how bright his hair was compared to the strip!"

On Gayle:

"Yes. He is someone I want to keep.  

"You are only as good as your strikers and once we go in to bat on Thursday, we go into bat. In that area, in particular, he is a part of my plans. I have not seen him yet and I have been here three weeks.

"He has got a calf
(problem) which is not responding. He is disappointed. He is a player I tried to sign on three occasions but I could never afford him.

"He would be great to have around. We thought he'd be OK after China but he has gone backwards unfortunately.

"Weíre OK in that department. Iíve got five there. Realistically, where can we improve on him? Thereís one or two little areas where we can do something but itís all about quality.

"They (Joelinton and Saint-Maximin) certainly fit my profile because like I've always said, since I've come into this job - not this Newcastle job, management - you're only as good as your strikers.

"They've certainly given us a new dimension in terms of their pace and their power and something different. They're both different.

"With Muto, who I've been very, very impressed with and Almiron, and Dwight Gayle, we have got a nice balance up there. Let's hope they can score the goals that every club in the Premier League needs to do."

They Said

Ghislain Printant said: 

"We were able to block during the first half. We were able to hold the ball, even if we must be even more incisive and decisive in terms of offense. For the moment, it still lacks sharpness. We were led to score on a long ball. It's something that happens to us to correct it. 

"On the other hand, in the second period, many situations were conceded. It was difficult to hold the ball, we no longer weighed offensively and we could not get up our block. On virtually every ball loss, there was a dangerous situation....this meeting was a good test for everyone.

"There was a lot of work during this week. This is a successful camp because we have benefited from ideal conditions to work and we will review next week in Saint-Etienne. Today, we have not seen the true face of this team because we are still in the preparation phase."


There were debuts for Allan Saint-Maximin (pictured above, making his bow against one of his former clubs) and Jetro Willems following their arrival at the club a day previously. Meanwhile Joelinton made his first appearance at Gallowgate and Matty Longstaff his first senior one.

A day after the U17 side debuted the new orange change kit in the Super Cup NI Final, there was a first senior airing for it.

Pre-season pitch time (in minutes):

Lascelles 45+90+45+90+77=347 +1 goal
Hayden 90+45+45+90+72=342
Manquillo 45+45+90+77+80=337
Shelvey 58+78+45+77+72=330 +1 goal
Schar 0+90+45+77+77=289
Fernandez 45+45+90+13+90=283
Aarons 32+12+45+79+59=227
S.Longstaff 0+26+45+61+90=222 +1 goal
Muto 63+78+45+21+32=218 +1 goal
Colback 63+78+45+0+0=186
Murphy 63+45+45+21+10=184
Dubravka 0+90+0+0+90=180
Clark 58+45+45+19+13=180
Ritchie 58+64+45+11+0=178
Almiron 0+0+45+69+59=173
Joelinton 0+0+45+69+58=172 +2 goals
Ki 32+45+45+29+18=169
Sterry 45+45+45+13+0=148
Darlow 45+0+0+90+0=135
Woodman 45+0+90+0+0=135
Dummett 0+0+45+71+13=129
M.Longstaff 27+12+45+13+18=115 +1 goal
Lazaar 63+12+0+0+0=75
Sorensen 27+45+0+0+0=72
Watts 32+0+0+0+0=32
Saint-Maximin 0+0+0+0+31=31
Willems 0+0+0+0+31=31
Allan 27+0+0+0+0=27
Bailey 27+0+0+0+0=27

29 players featured in the five pre-season games, but that didn't include senior players Christian Atsu, Dwight Gayle, Florian Lejeune, DeAndre Yedlin, Henri Saivet and Rob Elliot.

These two sides have met once before, Joe Harvey's Magpies beaten 1-2 in France during July 1971 - our goal coming from Supermac on his debut. 

Home pre-season friendlies - last decade:

2019/20 St. Etienne won 2-1 16,686
FC Augsburg lost 0-1 21,331
2017/18 Hellas Verona won 2-0 23,906
2016/17 Vitesse Arnhem won 3-2 19,200
2015/16 Borussia Munchengladbach lost 0-1 21,088
2014/15 Real Sociedad won 1-0 19,199
2013/14 Sporting Braga drew 1-1 16,187
2011/12 Fiorentina drew 0-0 12,656 (abandoned)
2010/11 PSV Eindhoven drew 2-2 16,118
2009/10 Leeds United drew 0-0 16,945

St. Etienne became the first French side to visit Gallowgate since Bordeaux in October 2012, when United won 3-0 in a Europa League Group Stage tie. 



Saint @ St. James' - thanks to Run Geordie Run for this pic

Newcastle concluded their pre-season programme on Saturday with a victory over French opposition that was rather more emphatic than the scoreline suggests.

Joelinton and Matty Longstaff netted for the Magpies before Les Verts pulled one back after a rare foray upfield, Gallowgate old boy Mathieu Debuchy on target.

However the margin of victory could and should have been far greater; Miguel Almiron's first United goal still eluding him despite several chances. He and Jonjo Shelvey also rattled the woodwork, while last-ditch interventions kept Isaac Hayden and Yoshinori Muto's names off the scoresheet. 

St. James' Park was bathed in sunshine for Steve Bruce's first home game in charge of the Magpies, but his entrance was low key and without fanfare.

Clad in their new orange change kit, the game began with new signings Allan Saint-Maximin and Jetro Willems on a substitute's bench that also included Christian Atsu for the first time in pre-season.

However Matt Ritchie was omitted after limping off at Hibernian in midweek and pre-season ended with no pitch time for the unfit trio of Dwight Gayle, Florian Lejeune and DeAndre Yedlin.

Martin Dubravka did return in goal but had virtually nothing to do in an initially muddled opening half, as the hosts tried to settle themselves down.

Having got off the mark at Easter Road, Joelinton came close to another on 21 minutes after Fabian Schar's long-range effort was blocked and to him, only for his shot to be blocked for a corner.

Hayden then rounded the visiting 'keeper shortly after, only for his goalbound effort from a narrowing angle to be headed clear by Wesley Fofana.

Record signing Joelinton wasn't to be denied though and latched on to Schar's through ball before forcing it beyond the advancing 'keeper and into the Leazes End goal on 39 minutes.

Shelvey then came agonisingly close to a second when his free kick bounced down off the crossbar and on the goal line, before being cleared to safety under pressure from the lurking Joelinton.

Almiron was causing problems with his pace but his end product remained wayward and he was denied once again on 47 minutes, taking Shelvey's through ball on but failing to beat the 'keeper.

The Paraguayan then had another effort blocked soon after before bursting into the box yet again in the 57th minute and unleashing a shot that grazed the crossbar.

Almiron and Joelinton made way for new pair Willems and Saint-Maximin, while Muto also arrived - and quickly had the ball in the net, only to be denied by an offside flag for an earlier transgression.

Willems and Saint-Maximin then combined for the latter to see his shot well saved, before the moment of the afternoon arrived for the near 17,000 crowd.

Matty Longstaff had been on the field for just a matter of seconds when he took possession on the edge of the St. Etienne area before hitting a screamer that absolutely flew into the roof of the net.

Further goals seemed inevitable but after Muto was denied from close in by an instinctive block, it was the Ligue 1 side that broke their duck; Debuchy allowed to nod in a corner as our defence dozed off with five minutes of normal time remaining.

The game ended with Saint-Maximin limping off in the company of a physio after coming a cropper while twisting and turning to get another shot away.

Dull this wasn't, but some context has to be allowed for - even if a visiting side playing in the Europa League this season were almost completely anonymous in attack, posing no more threat than they had during an equally unimpressive 1-1 draw at Boro the previous weekend.

In mitigation. St. Etienne were without Tunisian forward Wahbi Khazri following international duty. The former mackem was their top scorer with 13 last season before play in the African Nations Cup and is expected to return when their Ligue 1 season starts against Dijon next weekend.

That doesn't concern United though, whose pre-season ended with a trio of games against toothless and pliable opponents in the shape of PNE, Hibernian and today's visitors. In that respect, it couldn't have fallen better for the team or their new Head Coach in terms of a positive start at this club. 

While sound bites from Bruce accompanied the arrival of the three new faces, the reality is that United's three acquisitions in this transfer window to date were all linked to the club in 2018. What part he made in the decision making process of who comes and who goes - and how much that matters - is something that may become evident in the coming weeks.

A week to go before hostilities commence on and off the field, our post-Rafa dread and forecasts of imminent calamity have been replaced in some measure by anticipation as to how this is all going to hang together: judging by some of today's forward movement, it's an intriguing prospect.

Speaking after today's victory, Bruce spoke optimistically of retaining Gayle and getting Hayden to sign a contract extension, only for Hayden to almost immediately hint a different outcome. While that one plays out, new deals for both Longstaffs should be at the top of his - or someone's - to-do-list.

Before Sunday comes Thursday, and another big test for Bruce in the shape of the current transfer window closing. Without another ball being kicked, his credibility will be improved if the feared departures fail to materialise, particularly Sean Longstaff and Gayle. If there is an unwanted exit though, he risks being compromised almost as quickly as Alan Pardew was over Andy Carroll.

After that comes the squad list that will be entrusted to take us to January. The possibility of further arrivals in the next few days muddies the waters further, but if nothing else Jack Colback and Achraf Lazaar have been quickly and rightly eased out of the picture, with Saivet set to join them. 

Rolando Aarons remains the wild card; Bruce's liking for the player he had on loan at Hillsborough raising the possibility that he could take a place in the squad, perhaps at the expense of Jacob Murphy or Christian Atsu. Aarons last played in the Premier League in December 2017.

It's all a bit different to what we've been used to: whether it's better or remotely good enough remains to be seen, with strong parallels with August 2015 when messrs Mitrovic, Thauvin and Wijnaldum all rocked up but that particular Head Coach was unable to find a workable blend in time.

Goalscoring remains the big worry, with Bruce raising some eyebrows when speaking today of having five forwards to choose from. Who plays where and how ruthless they are, rather than just flashy will determine our fate, and presumably his. 

A constant refrain from the Head Coach so far has been the big shoes needing to be filled, but at this stage we're as worried about those vacated by Rondon and Perez as in our technical area.


Page last updated 05 August, 2019