What will be the Newcastle United team to face Tottenham on Saturday?
In an ideal world, Newcastle would have brought in the targets Rafa Benitez identified early this summer, with unwanted players heading out at the same time.
Instead we have seen a stand-off between Mike Ashley and Rafa Benitez, the club’s owner refusing to allow the manager a stand alone transfer budget.
The matter further complicated by the fact that even players Rafa agrees to sell, the manager doesn’t get the full sale price to spend in this transfer window.
With signings made late and a tendency to target signings who had been involved in this summer’s World Cup, it has further complicated preparations.
Now with only five days to go until Newcastle host Tottenham, interesting to see how many minutes on the pitch there have been for each of the Newcastle players in the friendlies.
What would be the starting eleven based on most football in the friendlies?
It wouldn’t be ideal, looking like this…
Darlow, Yedlin, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie, Shelvey, Longstaff, Diame, Atsu, Perez, Joselu
A bit of a 3-5-1-1, or 5-3-1-1?
There were 450 minutes of football in the five friendlies and only six players have featured for half or more of the total possible time. These are Ritchie, Perez, Yedlin, Clark, Diame and Joselu.
With the ridiculous handling of the transfer window by Mike Ashley, it has led to Joselu starting four of the five friendlies. Dwight Gayle starting the other but now off to West Brom, whilst Salomon Rondon has been confirmed as a loan signing only five days before the Premier League kicks off.
Centre of defence sees only Ciaran Clark (303 minutes) get significant time on the pitch, with Jamaal Lascelles (180 minutes) next best, but Lejeune now injured and summer signing Fabian Schar only 102 minutes.
One knock-on effect of the chaotic approach to transfers saw 20 year old Sean Longstaff’s loan move to Portsmouth postponed and played the first two matches (full 90 minutes) but then only 28 minutes of the final three pre-season games.
Concerns also as first choice keeper managed only 142 minutes, missing Saturday because of a knock. Whilst Kenedy has only had 67 minutes due to spending time with his family after his daughter was born.
Minutes played in first team pre-season friendlies so far, 29 Newcastle players featuring: