First match report of the season, so I will try my best to stick just to the football side of things.

It wasn’t exactly the 22-0 scoreline I was expecting (joking) but it was an ok enough performance from Newcastle, considering it was our first game of pre-season. These games are always good as they give the new players a chance to bed in to the system and get to know more about their team-mates… luckily for Newcastle United we don’t really have any new players so we are already one step ahead.

If there is one thing I have liked in recent years, it is that the pre-season choices have been spot on. Ireland is always a great one for me personally to take a trip with my Dad to visit friends and family, while the fact that my plane over from Newcastle was mostly fans shows how easy it was for the majority of us. Even the likes of Wolfsburg and Gelsenkirchen have been great choices in recent years. I can’t make it to Portugal but I expect it to be similar.

The Match

Newcastle looked alright in the first 15 minutes of what was a fast paced friendly match. No doubt that St Pats were up for the game as this would be a big game for a lot of the League of Ireland players to test themselves against ‘established’ Premier League players.

Joselu had a few half chances in the first 30 minutes but didn’t really look up to scratch. It was difficult to see from such a low position in the stand at the opposite end of the field but he didn’t seem to be getting around the pitch that quick neither. No disrespect but it certainly didn’t look like he had been working with a personal trainer all summer! I think I can get away with that little dig as I am a staunch defender of the guy.

Matt Ritchie looked creative and proactive on the right hand side, while Rolando Aarons treated us to his usual lively first 15 minutes followed by 30 minutes of doing nothing and looking suspect defensively.

Newcastle took the lead through Sean Longstaff who looked neat and tidy in the middle of the park. By no means a world beater but perhaps the shoddy transfer business may force Rafa into giving a few young players a chance. When it comes to young players it is important to stay away from social media, and especially the Chronicle’s Lee Ryder, who lauds every player who gets a game and talks about the high hopes they have of becoming a first team player.

The truth is that Longstaff is 20 years old (turns 21 in October), which isn’t exactly young anymore when it comes to trying to establish yourself as a first team player in the Premier League. In his two loan spells he did ok at Kilmarnock in the SPL, and had a really good season last year at Blackpool in League 1, where I think he chipped in with eight goals. It is unlikely he will get a chance this year unless Newcastle get lucky with cup draws, or there is an injury crisis. However, if he does get a chance then given the experience he already has in senior football, there is always the possibility that a few good performances can lead to something more.

Other youngsters in the first half included Fernandez at right back, who really struggled, and Yarney beside him at centre half who looked nervous.

It was almost a completely different team in the second half (only Yarney and Longstaff played both), with the likes of Shelvey, Yedlin, Clark, Atsu and Gayle coming on. Other youngsters included Armstrong and Roberts.

As you would expect, with more senior players on, the likes of Shelvey and Kenedy meant Newcastle looked for more comfortable and eventually ran out 2-0 winners.

I admit to missing the second goal as I left 10 minutes early to try and make the most out of what was a nice warm night in Dublin.

(To read Jonathan’s match ratings go here)


I love Rafa Benitez, he is probably the best qualified coach to ever manage Newcastle, and I would certainly place him up there near to Joe Harvey and Sir Bobby in terms of ranking previous Newcastle managers. I don’t know about other people’s opinion, but none of the aforementioned get anywhere close to Kevin Keegan.

I just don’t buy the notion that Rafa is staying because he loves Newcastle. I have no doubt that he loves the fans, the city etc. but he isn’t staying because of that. I think it is far more to do with the money that he is on and there simply isn’t anywhere else available that is as close to home.

I have said it before, and I will keep saying it… I think it would be far more beneficial for Newcastle United in the long-term if Rafa packed it in now. Allowing his contract to take a natural run down would not bring with it as much attention, or hostility for the owner, as it would him sticking two fingers up to Ashley now.

I don’t see any point in this coming season, with no money to spend, having a manager you know won’t be here next summer, it all just seems rather pointless if I am honest.

It doesn’t matter who the manager is, the guy in charge could be an Alex Ferguson/Brian Clough hybrid, and the club still wouldn’t go anywhere because Mike Ashley is in charge.

The fans

It was a really nice atmosphere at the ground, not too much singing, but more just fans sitting back, relaxing in the nice weather and enjoying the game with pals. A lot of Irish contingent in the Newcastle end too.

Last bit

The Chronicle tried their best by stating that there was ‘plenty of plus points’ to take away from the game… although if anyone can give me more than three I’ll give them a sticker!

If you are still talking about Rafa signing a new contract, or getting excited about signing Rondon (and selling Mitro, which makes no sense at all) then you are living in cloud cuckoo land.

Rafa keeps saying “don’t take it out on the players, the fans are intelligent, they know what the crack is.” Well, I am sorry Rafa but who do we take it out on?

This lies the problem with Rafa Benitez remaining manager this season, it keeps us fans silent for another season… apathetic even. It is EXACTLY what Mike Ashley wants.

There isn’t anything positive about Newcastle United, or as I now like to call them, Sports Direct United.

St Patrick’s Athletic 0 Newcastle United 2 – Tuesday 17 July 7.45pm

Newcastle United First Half:

Karl Darlow, Josef Yarney, Florian Lejeune, Javier Manquillo, Rolando Aarons, Matt Ritchie, Mohamed Diamé, Sean Longstaff, Víctor Fernández, Ayoze Pérez, Joselu

Newcastle United Second Half:

Matz Sels, DeAndre Yedlin, Josef Yarney, Ciaran Clark, Kenedy, Jonjo Shelvey, Sean Longstaff, Callum Roberts, Christian Atsu, Adam Armstrong, Dwight Gayle

You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn

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  • Yeah

    Please can you leave?

  • Wezza

    Well to be honest what is the point in having a team given the bare minimum hoping to finish 17th or better. There is no ambition and never will be under MA.

    • SuperDesHamilton

      That’s exactly what Lacelles & his agent said that’s why he wants to leave

  • Anonymouse1

    The only think keeping Rafa at Newcastle is the £6m clause in his contract.

    • glassjawsh-got-banned

      and the fact that he has never walked out on a contract. It seems like he’s proud of that.

  • Megatron1505

    “This lies the problem with Rafa Benitez remaining manager this season, it keeps us fans silent for another season… apathetic even. It is EXACTLY what Mike Ashley wants.”

    That’s actually a pretty good point, but losing Keegan didn’t lead to a sustained protest either did it? Unfortunately the reality is that fans these days simply aren’t as passionate in person as they pretend to be on the internet.

    • Kev Newcastle England

      Lost my passion years ago.Why? ASHLEY.

  • Billmag

    We must try and keep Rafa I don’t buy into the fact that if he walked it would hasten Ashley’s ownership of the club, even if we went down as far as the Mackem’s, he hates us that much he still wouldn’t sell, as far as KK is concerned I think I would back Rafa to win the league if he had a 12 point lead.

    • JonMag

      you can`t keep Rafa, the fat man won`t back him,
      he`s won everything in football, cup`s, league`s but i`d rather watch 1 game under Keegan than 10 under Benitez

      • Billmag

        I only made a statement if Rafa had been in the same position he would have won the league and so would SBR I’m not on about the style of football.

    • Jonathan Drape-Comyn

      Rafa would never have got you 12 points clear though like KK, would he?

      • Coble’s Return

        Neither would KK under Ashley.

      • Billmag

        How can you have a view on KK you are not old enough are you.

    • SuperDesHamilton

      Rafa isn’t staying everyone at the training ground has been told.

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    When I started going to matches we were lucky to finish fifteenth but for two years 1974 and 1976 we had two amazing cup years getting to Wembley twice. In the league we were normally where we are now but probably worse if truth be told. What followed was a relegation six years in the second division, one game away from the third division. Crowds went as low as seven thousand and any player who could kick a ball was sold. Under Ashley’s reign we have actually performed better than in the history of the club. Under Ashley we have been outside the top division 16.6% of the time under other Chairmen it’s 24.7%. To say there is no point in this season is a disgraceful statement not only to Rafa but also to a team which finished tenth and could do even better this season. Counting down the days to Spurs and Cardiff as cannot wait for the season to start. How I wish the likes of you and others on here had been at the two Wrexham games crowds of 7,000 or at Southend New Years Day twelve O’ Clock kick off 4-0 defeat. You do not know how lucky you are to be in a position like we are in now with a tenth top team which can press on into Europe next season. To you that may be pointless but to me it is heaven.

    • JonMag

      Go jump in front of a Metro train you [email protected]@king loon

    • Jonathan Drape-Comyn

      supporting Newcastle isn’t about results or what division you are in. It is about having a bit of pride in your team, supporting an actual football club that is ran in the best interests of the fans.

      Newcastle is not that right now (and i’m sure some people would argue it never has been).

      I’d rather watch a club in a league 2 with decent ambition, and abit of soul and identity than support a Newcastle in the Premier League which is a billboard for a knock sports shop.

      • Come&TakeIt1836

        “I’d rather watch a club in a league 2 with decent ambition, and abit of soul and identity than support a Newcastle in the Premier League”

        If that is your true assessment and desire, nothing is holding you back. Off you go then…

        • Jonathan Drape-Comyn

          You can’t choose who you support though can you? I could go and support Carlisle but my heart wouldn’t be in it.

          • Come&TakeIt1836

            Then you didn’t mean what you said which was my ultimate point. You were speaking more grandly/over the top to make a point but not literally but that was not clear at first.

            I disagree. It may take some time to get to the same level of passion but a person can change if they have adequate motivation.

            If a person does not have adequate motivation, then my stance is all of this current noise should be irrelevant. First, the window isn’t closed yet. Don’t judge a half-baked cake. Second, all the MA directed hate is counter-productive to the club, the squad, and to the health of the person feeling the hate… all things the person feeling the hate cares about. It does little to nothing to Mike himself. It is a waste of time and effort… a red herring. There is no proper reason to engage in it.

            Sure, I’d like some things to be different. I’d like Rafa to be given a specific budget for transfers and payroll (we likely wouldn’t know it) and freedom to build the squad himself. Short of this, I’d like the current process to move at a reasonable speed. They still seem to be glacier-like in their actions and decision making. But regardless of this or the finances or the owner, I will still be 100% a fan of the club, squad, and manager and will enjoy the coming season. Next year will have its own hurdles.

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        Believe me I have pride in my city and team. I grew up with the Westwood’s Seymour and McKeags who once made us homeless by taking the roof of the Leazes. Even the thousands of fans who do not go to the games and talk about it in the pubs it’s their lives and they are very proud to be a supporter Ashley or not. I hate the negativity on here that is why I come on and defend the club and will continue to do so. Having said that will be at Cardiff and all the other away games so will gladly buy you a pint perhaps in Wetherspoons at West Ham.

        • Toon Barmy

          It is Ashley who you are defending, not the club. As far as I am concerned Ashley is NOT, NEVER has been and NEVER will be Newcastle United, hopefully he will soon become an unwanted part of Newcastle’s history. When I critise Ashley I am doing so in order to defend Newcastle United, it is your ignorance that tells you otherwise. I find it ironic that you constantly defend Ashley, a man who has absolutely no love whatsoever for NUFC. As for the negativity, you are one of the most negative people on this site, because there is nothing positive about blind loyalty.

          • Monkseaton Magpies

            I am defending the club from the Chairmen down to the tea lady. An attack on Ashley is an attack on Rafa and the players and they need your support not protests.

          • Toon Barmy

            ASHLEY IS NOT, NEVER HAS BEEN AND NEVER WILL BE NEWCASTLE UNITED, therefore when i attack Ashley, I am attacking Ashley and Ashley alone. I do so in SUPPORT of Rafa, the players and the tea lady. If you fail to understand my point, it is either due to ignorance, or a lot of people on this site are correct and you are nothing but a troll.

          • joe mac

            just block him!

          • Wezza

            Yep, apparently they’re not even Newcastle fans they aren’t two brothers who are Man Utd season ticket holders.
            Most of monkseatons posts contain googled information on our club to make you think he is genuine. We know he is not.

          • Kneebotherm8


          • Kneebotherm8

            Blind loyalty to his messiah Mike……..not,as you say,any loyalty to NUFC…….

          • Westdentoon

            Bang on.

        • KRS1

          I was in the lift with Nelson Mandela last week, he said to me “that Monkseaton really is a fantasist isn’t he”

          • Kneebotherm8


        • SuperDesHamilton

          You keep going on about the past poor you. So hard done by, it’s the present & future & with your pal it’s looking bleak

        • Desree

          You defend Ashley.

    • Paul Patterson

      FA cup finals x2, FA cup semi final x1, Premier League runners up x2, UEFA cup semi finals x2, Chamions League 2nd group stage x1, Premier League 3rd Place, 4th place, 5th place. Can your hero beat that?

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        Yes and a lot of seasons in division two and no a domestic trophy won since 1955.

      • jack

        He’s an idiot Paul

    • SuperDesHamilton

      That was the 70’s when there was no money in football, now it’s awash with money

      Also no cares about your made up stories

  • Ram Kishore

    No one’s getting excited about signing Rondon and this calmness and understanding the reality among fans is what makes Rafa calls us fans as Intelligent..

    Jonathan u r right about Rafa ..He loves the city and fans but it’s not out of love he’s staying at Nufc ..
    He’s closer to home and us matching the wages

    I do disagree with you on things like nothing to expect for this season ..
    The transfer window has not yet ended.. i am just being realistic..
    We should have done deals a bit quicker
    U should have waited until then to tell about the season u expect

  • Hughie_Gallacher

    Rafa should have seized the chance to take the Spain job. His reputation is only going to suffer from here on in.

  • Come&TakeIt1836

    “No point to new season”…melodramatic tosh.

  • Paul Patterson

    Rafa leaves and the whole thing comes crashing down, that’s not a sensationalist comment, it’s realism.

    • Peter C

      You are so right, he is the glue which is keeping the club together, and has been for the last 2 years, when he goes, God help us.

  • Leicester Mag

    Some good points for which the usual suspects take aim at. What seems to have escaped most is that the dash for mediocrity only works when half a dozen play the same game. Well shock news no-one else is playing that game any more.

  • robbersdog

    If Rafa left now, I dread to think who Ashley would bring in to replace him. It’s the doomsday scenario.

  • If the club gets bought Rafa will have all the money he wants and he likes to build a team which he is allowed with NUFC at the moment. There might be no Big Money signings, but Rafa can say who goes at least.
    We all want the club to develop players instead of just buying foreigners.

  • Toonfen

    It’s the hope that kills you!!!!

  • Desree

    Idiotic. Give the players abuse when it is the owner you are frustrated with.

    If you are fed up with the regime and take it out on the team, you may as well be a makem

  • Down Under Mag

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see us end the window having sold Merino, Mitro, Sels, Mbemba, Hayden and probably one or two others and somehow end up with another player on loan and that’s it…the window closing too soon to allow us to sign anyone. It also wouldn’t surprise me to see Lascelles or Shlevey sold at the 11th hour for large sums that don’t get spent. That surplus will no doubt be missing come January as the spin doctors at the club try and work the “It’s Rafa’s fault” angle to explain away why we are stuck firmly in a relegation fight.

  • Rob

    Given sports directs huge drop in profits Now would be a good time for an investor to come forward to take the club off mikes hands.

    Nothing will change much until he is gone and we’re in different hands.

    It’s hard to relish fighting to see a mid table or slightly above season as something to look forward to when the club has so much potential.

    • SuperDesHamilton

      I wouldn’t mind what you said so much mid table etc…IF we all didn’t know theirs plenty money to spend the owner just ring & that’s what annoys all of us

      • Rob

        I agree we all know the club has money and we all know it gets siphoned off to MASH.

        Ten years has taught us Mike will often claim to change and learn lessons but never does.

        The saddest part is some other clubs have even worse owners.

        • SuperDesHamilton

          If we were paupers fans would be fine, we all know we aren’t though.

          Yet fatty can pay £200 million for land in London to develop property though…

  • Rich Lawson

    For me Ashley does nowt this season and waits to see how it plays out. At the end,if we stay up and Rafa’ is about to walk then a proper contract and spend will be on the table to try and keep him,Ashley is a total chancer.