Reflecting on the trip to Spain, Rafa Benitez will have been happy to see pretty much every box ticked on his checklist.
The four day break ending up being perfectly timed to avoid some depressing snow, ice and cold winds on Tyneside.
The Newcastle Manager clearly happy with the facilities and the pitch on which they played Royal Antwerp.
Whilst in the actual game there were maybe only two things that Rafa Benitez would have changed.
The Newcastle boss pointing out that things got a little feisty towards the end of the 135 minutes (3 x 45 minute periods), with a risk of injury as ‘There were some bad tackles at the end’.
Jamaal Lascelles particularly annoyed at one poor challenge.
However, Rafa believes he has no new injuries after the trip so that represents a big tick on his list.
As for the friendly game overall, the Manager was pleased to see 22 players get a run out, with the extended game meaning some got 90 minutes and others 45. The United boss also thinking that the training sessions went well and an added bonus of some team bonding with the squad away together.
Maybe like the Premier League so far, it was the finishing that was the biggest disappointment. United created plenty of chances in this one and a half games worth of football but only had the one success, an excellent lob by Matt Ritchie towards the end of the first third.
To sum things up, a poor Dwight Gayle spot-kick was easily saved in the final stages of the third third, meaning the game finished 1-1.
However, the number nine wasn’t alone, as plenty other chances went begging.
Assuming we stay up, Rafa must be making goalscoring a priority in various positions, not just for strikers, on only eight occasions in 30 Premier League matches have Newcastle scored more than one goal.
“I think that it (trip to Spain and friendly game) was fine.
“The idea was to get minutes under their belts (against Royal Antwerp) and create some chances.
“It was positive for us, they didn’t create too much and we got no injuries.
“Some of them needed to play 90 minutes – some played 45 but a lot of them got 90 minutes.
“So it is good and we will see if it can help before the end of this season.
“In terms of the training sessions they were fine and in terms of relationships between the players, spending time together was also positive.
“When you play these kind of games you can’t expect everybody to be running at full pace, (but) they were competing and doing well.
“There were some bad tackles at the end which I didn’t like too much – because it’s always a risk.”