United failed to score and fell to defeat in front of a reasonable crowd at St James’ on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
Pre-season has once again been dogged by the failure of the club to want to kick on from last season’s superb finish. Rafa’s made noises that he is far from happy. So we went into this game with Joselu up front and a fairly strong side with firepower and some first teamers on the bench.
Loads of kids and families headed to St James’ with a family funfair outside on Strawberry Place hoping to see United (wearing the smart looking away kit) finish pre-season on a high. It was a nice day. A good feel about it with loads of younguns at their first game.
The game started well and Diame and Hayden set about their task of running the midfield. Hayden looked good and then fell apart in the box when well placed to score. Dubravka didn’t make it to the squad due to a (hopefully) minor injury and Darlow did well enough. Elliot didn’t get on at all so he’s clearly (and rightly) third choice for the season.
Rithcie hit a shot from distance the keeper tipped over and the half generally lacked intensity. Our opponents brought about 100 shirtless fans and seemed to be treating the game as a an exercise in defensive stability and counter attacking play.
The main incident of the first half was Diame receiving treatment and then eventually going off (running) with an injury. Let’s hope it was a precaution. Ki came on to a good reception and was canny.
The second half saw a raft of changes including Shelvey, Schar, Murphy and Kennedy coming on. Three of them should start next week.
United’s best spell in the game saw them undone on the counter as Augsberg took the lead. Darlow made a good save to keep it at 1 not long after and then United hit the bar and Murphy shot straight at the keeper when well placed one on one.
The defeat isn’t ideal but if we’d won 1 0 i’d probably feel the same. It was canny at times, poor at others, like most pre-season game. It hasn’t been good on the football front in pre-season, but we’ve done much better in the last two seasons under Rafa in pre-season and gone on to lose the opening two games and start poorly. So we’ll see.
More concerning than the game was Rafa once again re-affirming he was sick of Ashley’s approach of aiming to finish 17th. Rondon’s on his way apparently. Joselu had a really poor game. Muto wasn’t involved, so we had no strikers to bring on.
Not the best, like Ashley’s United.