I awoke this morning to a Twitter feed full of consternation at the latest ‘Red Top’ claims of rancour & division within the corridors of power at St James Park.

Rafa is furious about X, Y & Z scream the Mirror. “Showdown” talks rear their head again. Whether this is in any way true or not is open to conjecture, but I think most of our support would agree we are still at least 3 decent signings from being happy. A proper number 9 being the biggest concern in my opinion.

So, it wasn’t the best start to the day. However, that all changed when I met up with a few smiling faces and had an ice cold Estrella pushed my way in Bar Loco.

Friendlies are basically the weakest of methadone to most football supporters. However, as this kick about began I became quickly engrossed in proceedings. Newcastle, resplendent in the new All Black affair were instantly at it, moving the ball around with speed & precision. After only a few minutes we were a goal up. An excellent move complemented by a smartly taken Ayoze finish.

We didn’t have to wait long for number two. This time it was the impressive Atsu pouncing after Mitro slipped on the now sodden turf to power past the Verona custodian, wonderfully named just ‘Nicholas.’

During the rest of the first half, it was all Newcastle. Perez was unfortunate not to get his second, as he saw his shot cleared off the line after great work by Dummett & Atsu. And Shelvey was centimetres away just before the break with a curling effort from outside the box.

The game was more low key in the second half, but it was all United. We went close a few more times with possibly the pick of the bunch being a Ritchie free kick which hit the outside of the post.

Rafa makes 8 subs in Hellas Verona FriendlyRafa pretty much changed the whole team in the 67th minute & there were enthusiastic applause for those coming off.

I guess most of you are most interested in the new signings.

Lejeune looked very comfortable & sprayed the ball nicely around the park.
Manquillo also had a decent home debut, looking pacy and assured on the ball.
Merino, who came on in the second half raft of substitutions instantly slotted in, moving the ball around well whilst also looking tenacious in the tackle.
Murphy after a couple of errors then put in an excellent cross which Aarons should’ve done better with.

Such profligacy was the only real negative for me. United always miss Dwight Gayle. He’s our fox in the box and I’m sure he’d have notched a couple today. His absence only increases the pressure on Charnley et al to get their collective fingers out re new striking options. Dwight is class, but he ain’t ever gonna be an ever present with those hamstrings.

The biggest plus of the day was that we as a unit looked strong, compact and all seemed to know what we were doing. It looked like a team coached by someone who knows his stuff. It would be wonderful if Rafa could get his way with the few extra additions he’s wanting. With the dubious nature of those above him, I’m not holding my breath.

Anyways, bring on the Spurs. I’m guessing they’ll give us a slightly sterner test than Hellas.

Nick Clark.