Jonjo Shelvey's slide
rule pass to Javier Manquillo saw him centre from the right for Ayoze Perez to tuck away his cross on
the volley at the near post. 1-0
Shelvey again started the move,
his long ball forward to
Mitrovic deflecting into the path of Christian Atsu, who smashed the ball
between 'keeper and post at the Leazes End.
NUFC 2 HV 0
Full time: NUFC 2 HV 0
Rafa Benitez said:
decided to stay, I was expecting another thing (in terms of transfer
"Now we are where we are. I
decided to stay because of a lot of positive things I could see, starting
with the fans.
"I will try to do my best to
be sure that the team we have will be good enough to compete and stay as
high as we can in the Premier League.
"We have to sell – that’s
obviously necessary – but we can buy. It depends on the conditions. The
majority of (those players that are for sale) know directly or through their
"We have a situation where
"For the championship, they
are too expensive."
Asked about Dwight Gayle after the game, Rafa replied:
"He's fine. Hopefully, he'll carry on training. If everything's
fine, he will be available. It's not his hamstring, it's more the
"He's not comfortable. We don't want to take any risks and be sure he
Verona's former Newcastle
coach Fabio Pecchia commented:
"We are a bit short in all departments but the club are aware.
"Newcastle is a strong team, and is ready to play at the next match against
Tottenham. They are ready.
"Rafa can work with this team from the
beginning. The objective is to maintain their status, and Rafa, with this team,
can do this.
"I have a strong relationship and a
stronger friendship with Rafa - I stayed in Newcastle for three months, but I
have a lot of good memories of Newcastle. For me, it was a very good experience
and I found a lot of friends.”
United debuted their all-black third kit and there were first
outings on home soil for Florian Lejeune, Javier Manquillo, Jacob
Murphy and Mikel Merino.
NUFC home pre-season friendlies - last decade:
2017/18 Hellas Verona won 2-0 23,906
2016/17 Vitesse Arnhem won 3-2 19,200
2015/16 Monchengladbach lost 0-1 21,088
2014/15 Real Sociedad won 1-0 19,199
2013/14 SC Braga drew 1-1 16,187
2011/12 Fiorentina drew 0-0 12,656*
2010/11 PSV Eindhoven drew 2-2 16,118
2009/10 Leeds United drew 0-0 16,945
2008/09 Valencia won 2-1 31,494
2008/09 PSV Eindhoven drew 2-2 13,477
2007/08 Sampdoria won 1-0 23,078
2007/08 Juventus won 2-0 34,016
2007/08 Celtic won 4-1 30,225
Magpies v Serie A/B sides - PL era*:
1992/93 Lucchese drew 1-1 (Anglo
1992/93 AS Bari lost 0-3 (Anglo Italian)*
1997/98 Juventus lost 2-3 (Friendly) Cesena
1999/00 AS Roma lost 0-1 (UEFA Cup)
2002/03 Juventus lost 0-2 (Champs League)
2002/03 Inter Milan drew 2-2 (Champs League)
2006/07 Palermo won 1-0 (UEFA Cup)
1992/93 Ascoli lost 0-1 (Anglo
1992/93 Cesena drew 2-2 (Anglo Italian) SJP*
1994/95 Sampdoria lost 1-3 (Friendly) Ibrox
1998/99 Juventus won 2-1 (Friendly) SJP
1999/00 AS Roma drew 0-0 (UEFA Cup) SJP
2002/03 Juventus won 1-0 (Champs League) SJP
2002/03 Inter Milan lost 1-4 (Champs League)
2007/08 Juventus won 2-0 (Friendly) SJP
2007/08 Sampdoria won 1-0 (Friendly) SJP
2011/12 Fiorentina drew 0-0 abd (Friendly) SJP
2017/18 Verona won 2-0 (Friendly) SJP
* expanded to include 1992/93 promotion season
Pre-season pitch time:
De Jong 75+62+29+60+20+18=264
Ritchie 0+0+45+45+70+90=250 (1 goal)
Murphy 0+45+45+60+20+25=195 (2 goals)
Gamez 45+0+29+45+20+25=164 (1 goal)
Newcastle concluded preparations for their Premier League return with
a routine victory over their docile Italian visitors at a damp Gallowgate on
Strikes from Ayoze Perez and Christian Atsu in the opening 12
minutes clinched the win and there were some encouraging displays, as Rafa Benitez's side
geared up for the visit of Spurs next week.
A healthy crowd of almost 24,000 - over 5,500 more than for the defeat of
Vitesse Arnhem in 2016 - saw United completely dominate a side who return to Serie A competition in a
The margin of victory could and should have been greater; an apparently
makeshift Verona defence unwilling to physically commit themselves and only
a succession of breaks in play for treatment to visiting players preventing
United inflicting greater damage.
Perez saw one goalbound effort blocked, Mitrovic had three attempts of
varying quality and Shelvey even attempting to lob the goalkeeper from his
own half before Neil Swarbrick blew for half time.
The second half was similar: Matt Ritchie's free kick hitting a post,
Rolando Aarons heading over and substitute 'keeper Marco Silvestre
denying Isaac Hayden, Aarons, Ritchie and Siem De Jong in turn.
However, the lack of threat from a Verona side under the care of ex-United
coach Fabio Pecchia meant that this wasn't a particularly taxing end to
pre-season and neither Rob Elliot or Karl Darlow had a save to make.
And with Dwight Gayle absent for a second successive game, Ritchie and De
Jong became United's two most advanced players once Mitro and Perez had gone
off - underlining our concerning lack of forward
Given the freedom of the park, Jonjo Shelvey was a constant threat and enjoyed support from Atsu and Ritchie on the wings - the latter
quickly on the same wavelength as right back Javier Manquillo.
The visitors enjoyed some unthreatening possession in the opening exchanges
before United scored from their first attack of the game; Shelvey's slide
rule pass to Manquillo seeing him centre from the right for Perez to tuck away his cross on
the volley at the near post.
Atsu then got his second goal in as many games eight minutes later, Shelvey's long ball forward to
Mitrovic deflecting into the path of the Ghanaian, who smashed the ball
between 'keeper and post at the Leazes End.
All fairly routine not ideal preparation for the visit of Spurs, but we're now
at the end of the phoney war and it's difficult to know just what state we're
in. Same as usual, I hear you say....
On the one hand, players whose departure would have emphasised the complete
control of Rafa remain here and on the pitch today: Mitrovic, Mbemba and Darlow
all evidence of compromises reached, a lowering of expectations, a redrawing of
And while Rafa cannot be blamed for the likes of Saivet and Riviere, the
apparent unsuitability of Lazaar, Gamez and Hanley for the league we're about to
enter point to a misguided belief by the manager that he'd be able to buy for
the short term, gain promotion and promptly trade them in.
Beyond that though, there's quality in the squad and evidence of personal
advancement in terms of tactics, fitness and attitude - exactly what you'd
expect from a manager of proven quality working with a group of players over a
period of time.
Add to that some positive hints from the incoming quartet - albeit assembled
according to an Ashley blueprint - and we might not be too far away from
something credible and competitive. That's the frustration and the worry - that
we're knowingly short-handed and needlessly gambling.