After Wolfsburg 1 Newcastle 3, when Rafa Benitez was interviewed he didn’t seem to be getting too carried away with the performance or result.
This was in marked contrast to the local (north east) press who were in raptures about the game/display.
Only a friendly – but beating a Bundesliga side away from home and outplaying them for decent spells, should surely have buoyed the United boss a little more.
I thought it was down to his usual manner of trying to treat all games, victories or defeats, in the same way – trying to get not too carried away.
However, then I began to dig a little deeper…
The fact the game was being played at the five thousand capacity reserve stadium should have given us a clue, rather than the impressive Volkswagen Arena.
Also, it all seemed a bit strange playing a glamour friendly against Premier League opposition on a midweek afternoon when everybody is at work.
Then we have the fact that less than three thousand locals bothered to come along and watch.
Before the game, players such as Rob Elliot had said how much they were looking forward to coming up against top quality players such as German star striker Mario Gomez.
Gomez didn’t start the game or even come off the bench – so I looked at who else was/wasn’t playing.
The bottom line, is that Newcastle were playing Wolfsburg reserves, at their reserve stadium, in front of a reserve size crowd.
Of the team who played the final match of last season, a relegation/staying up play-off, only three of those eleven players started against Newcastle yesterday – Joshua Guilavogui, Yannick Gerhadt and goalscorer Yunus Malli.
After coming so close to relegation last season, Wolfsburg have invested £40m in three star signings: £17m centre-back John Brooks, £13m midfielder Ignacio Camacho and £9m striker Nany Landry Dimata. None of that trio started against Newcastle.
In contrast, Wolfsburg travelled to London last weekend and really gave Fuham the runaround at Craven Cottage, winning 3-0.
Big £17m summer signing John Brooks scored first goal and then star striker Mario Gomez got the other two, almost grabbing a hat-trick.
Wolfsburg played their first team at Fulham, not the reserves (as we saw playing against Newcastle).
Whilst Newcastle fans were looking at this Wolfsburg game as the glamour friendly of pre-season, the German club clearly looked at it as what looks like an extra game they have fitted in late on, to give their reserves/squad players a run out.
The fact that this Sunday they play what they must see as their pre-season home glamour friendly against Fiorentina at the Volkswagen Arena, surely confirms the relative status of the Newcastle match for Wolfsburg.
I am not saying it wasn’t a valuable run out for Newcastle United against Wolfsburg BUT it was a game against the reserves of a club who came within a whisker of being relegated last season.
So nobody should get too carried away with the performance or result, much as they shouldn’t get too dismayed at losing to Mainz and getting a bit of a runaround from them last Saturday.
What I do find strange though, is that even though journalists actually even travelled over from Tyneside for the match, I haven’t seen any mention that this was a game against the Wolfsburg second team. Just over the top reaction to the result and performance.
Nice to see the team put some good moves and goals together against any opposition BUT that doesn’t alter the fact that quality signings are desperately needed in these remaining four weeks of the transfer window.
Wolfsburg 1 Newcastle 3
Newcastle: Mitrovic 38, Ritchie 43, Atsu 68
Wolfsburg: Malli 52
Elliot (Darlow 70), Manquillo (Mbemba 70), Lejeune (Lascelles 70), Clark, Dummett (Gamez 70), Ritchie (Aarons 70), Shelvey (c), Hayden (Merino 70), Atsu (Murphy 70), Pérez (De Jong 70), Mitrović (Diame 46)
Crowd: 3,011 (Approx 300 Newcastle)
To read the match ratings of all Newcastle players from win over Wolfsburg go HERE
To watch all the goals an extended highlights of Wolfsburg 1 Newcastle 3 go HERE.
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])