Rafa could spring a surprise and start both young wingers against Tottenham
Bradford 0 Newcastle 4 – Wednesday 26 July
A very happy away day.
Just like our first pre-season game at Hearts, the trip to Bradford was an easy away day for most fans with Valley Parade being only a two hour drive down the A1 or a (relatively) cheap train journey. I for one am happy that the club are not in America or the Far East this summer, putting commercial interests ahead of what needs to be done on the pitch.
Another plus was being treated to probably the easiest parking bay ever for a Newcastle game, right in front of the stadium… something that you certainly couldn’t do in the Premier League, and especially at SJP, unless you drive an Audi or a Merc.
On the way to Bradford I was told by a few Geordie elders and then a few locals when I arrived, that I had to try one of the ‘famous’ Chicken Balti pies in the away end, I must say they were fantastic. Unlike at SJP where the pies are so hot you might as well be ironing your tongue. So, Bradford City goes straight to the top of best food I have ever had in an away end.
The 2,800 (as reported by Northumbria Police) travelling Toon Army was a great following, especially taking into account that Sunderland only managed 999 a week previous.
The atmosphere itself had a certain FA Cup third round vibe about it, with most of the songs coming from the younger generation (and I’m 22!!) who were maybe making the most out of their first, or odd, away trip to sing some songs and have a laugh… although why we still sing about Adam Johnson is beyond me. I hope that is nipped in the bud before the start of the season (along with any Jimmy Saville references too). The atmosphere in the away end was also helped with the unreserved seating… much to the annoyance of the Bradford City stewards.
On the pitch NUFC started off with a strong side, perhaps one that could start the first game of the season.
Elliott in goal, a back four of Yedlin, Lejeune, Clark and Dummett – with Lascelles struggling with injuries again he may not make the start of the season. In midfield, our only real credible centre midfield duo at the moment, Hayden and Shelvey, with Atsu and a not so match fit Matt Ritchie out wide. Ayoze Perez started behind Dwight Gayle.
To be honest, the first half was a bit of a bore with Bradford dropping deep and allowing Newcastle to play. My view of the game also wasn’t helped by the blinding sun that hovered over Valley Parade.
As per usual though, Jonjo Shelvey dominated the first half, and had a great goal disallowed for what was apparently handball, although I really don’t have a clue. Lejeune also looked very comfortable at the back. While he wasn’t tested defensively, he looked confident on the ball and provided one great cross-field pass. However, he tried a few more after that and none of them came off.
Many changes were made in the second half as is the custom in all pre-season friendlies. Having missed the Preston game, it was my first chance to see both Manquillo and Murphy.
Like the rest of his defensive team mates, Manquillo had a very quiet 45 minutes, but Jacob Murphy certainly showed what he could do with two goals, a couple of smart runs, and he was also very unselfish to lay a golden chance on for Mitrovic when he could have easily grabbed himself a hat-rick.
Newcastle went 1-0 up through Dwight Gayle thanks to an assist from Atsu, who in general had a very poor game. Quiet in the first half, and when he did have a chance, he didn’t take it. Instead Atsu chose to try and turn back onto his favoured left foot when he should have hit the back of the net with his right. With Murphy impressing, Atsu will have to be looking over his shoulder and bucking his ideas up before the Tottenham game. Almost a minute later Murphy scored his first of two goals with a great finish, looking confident and composed in the box.
On the opposite side, Ronaldo Aarons put in a great performance with two assists, he tormented his full-back so much that the Bradford man was forced to lash out in the end. A young Aarons had clearly knocked his pride in front of the toon army.
With Ritchie struggling for fitness, and Atsu yet to impress in pre-season, Rafa could spring a surprise and start with both Aarons and Murphy against Tottenham.
By the end of the game, Newcastle had run out 4-0 winners. While it was only a pre-season game at Bradford, I can’t help but feel that a comfortable ‘big’ win was needed, to ease some fears over transfers etc.
Bigger tests to come next week in Germany, but most importantly, I will be looking forward to watching Newcastle in the sun (jinxed it now) with a few beers! Roll on Germany.
Bradford 0 Newcastle 4
Newcastle: Gayle 50, Murphy 51,79 Mitrovic 76
Elliot (Woodman 61), Yedlin (Maquilo 46), Lejeune (Mbemba 61), Clark (Saivet 77), Dummett (Gamez 61), Atsu (Aarons 61), Shelvey (de Jong 61), Hayden (Colback 77), Ritchie (Murphy 46), Pérez (Diame 46), Gayle (Mitrovic 61)
Crowd: 7,601 (2,404 Newcastle – figure given by Bradford City)
Referee: Geoff Eltringham
(Read the match ratings for each Newcastle player in Wednesday night’s match HERE)
(Read what Stuart McCall said after the game HERE)
You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]