United rounded off their pre-season preparation in fine style with a convincing performance at St James’ Park.
Like Hibernian on Tuesday United created a host of chances and look dangerous in attack, but were wasteful in front of goal.
The team that started the game is likely to be the team that starts against the Gunners next week at SJP and the game got off to a pedestrian start in true pre-season style.
A diverse crowd of nearly 17k is probably more than many anticipated, but still 5k less than United attracted for their home friendly against Augsburg last season which suggests crowds may be down this season, but not catastrophically so as twitter has predicted.
The game sprung into life when Almiron went on one of his (trademark?) runs from his own area to the edge of the opposition box but failed to take advantage. Almiron this week has been a constant thorn in opponent sides and Bruce has him playing far more centrally, which he seems to enjoy. He could have had 5 or 6 this week and has none, despite testing the goal keeper in the second half. He needs a goal, but remains a real threat on the break.
The goals were thanks to the perseverance of Joelinton and the brilliance of Matty Longstaff. The Brazilian has a bit of an off day but still had an impact but still got a goal (good), and the young lad from North Shields looks to be a real prospect.
Muto could have had a hattrick and improved as he came on, Shelvey hit the bar from a free kick and the debut from Allain Saint Maximan (ASM) was as explosive as many hoped.
He’s got loads of pace and loads of tricks. He will frustrate at times but Bruce seems to have given him a free role behind the striker. From this showing he will cause opponents problems.
Saint Ettiene got a late consolation, in truth they didn’t really turn up.
Thinking back to a year ago when United were booed off against a poor Augsburg side, and Rafa Benitez raging at the pathetic attempt to improve the side, things seemed more positive today.
United have a side filled with some decent players at this level, a solid defence and a dangerous attack full of pace. To get fans onside Steve Bruce needs to win games and win them quickly.
The real stuff starts next week. Over to you, Steve.
Alex Hurst