Not the worst of starts to what looks like the most promising and exciting season in the history of Newcastle, this one.
Newcastle launched their 2022/23 campaign on Saturday with their first pre-season game of the summer, in which the Magpies defeated Gateshead 5-1 on the former’s training ground. The game was played behind closed doors, but there were cameramen out there recording everything for Eddie Howe to analyze and for all of us to drool at what took place on the field—and of course, what indeed is ahead when official matches start coming.
Here are all five goals scored by the Men in Black on a sunny Saturday afternoon 24 hours ago.
All of Richie, Joelinton, Miggy Almirón (twice!), and Longstaff scored goals in a pleasant game that brought everybody back to work and to the fulfilling experience of playing football again. It’s been a brief vacation period—even more for international players participating in friendlies, World Cup qualifiers, or UEFA Nations League games—but nobody seems to have lost a step and, even more important, everybody appears to be fit in their return to the training ground with no injured players nor unconditioned ones in tow.
Giving those internationals a little bit of resting room, Howe left them—Bruno, Schar, Wood, and recently-acquired Pope and Botman—on the sidelines for this easy first game of the pre-season as they gear up for the second one in a few days.
Our beloved Elliot “Geordie Maradona” Anderson started for the Magpies and put Joe Willick in a prime position to score only for the latter to strike it over the bar. Shelvey and Fraser, per NUFC.com official game report, combined next though they couldn’t finish even linking up with the mighty Anderson.
Matt “La Bamba” Ritchie scored the first and only goal of the first half after putting in a cross by Anderson’s unique right foot that got deflected on its way to Ritchie allowing him to find a nice position to help the ball kiss the net.
The second half was the one full of fireworks as both teams found the net at least once—and one little winger clad in black and white threads did twice!
Howe wanted his lads to increase their efforts, which clearly showed when the ball got rolling from the 45-minute on. Just two minutes into the second period Joelinton—who looked like freaking Hulk sporting a soccer kit—found himself kicking a penalty kick (after a play in which Longstaff was fouled in the box) into the net. Jacob Murphy scored a few rounds of the clock later only to be denied by an offside flag (yes, behind-close-doors games also feature this little stupid thing called rulebook... ugh).
Things got very serious after Paul Blackett scored one for Gateshead, as the last 10 minutes of the game proved. Allan Saint-Maximin had been marvelous for long and he only amped up his vibes in the final stretch of the match. And the same thing, multiplied by two, can be said about Paraguayan Wonderboy Miguel Almirón. Miggy came back to Tyneside as you’d have expected: full of sparkling football.
Almirón put up the 3-1 in the 80th minute after fighting and winning a fantastic long ball thrown up the pitch and into the space by wing-back Emil Krafth, finishing sweetly with his golden left foot. Less than ten minutes after that play, ASM got the ball past the midfield line, rushed the field with it, found Miggy with a pass to the space and into the area, and the South American only had to swiftly pass the ball into the net to put Newcastle 4-1 up. Sweet dreams are made of these, as good old Mr. Manson woulda said.
To put the cherry on top, and in an uncannily-similar play to the one which ended in a goal a few minutes before, ASM launched a counter after Joelinton recovered a ball, passed the ball to the Brazilian into the area, and this one crossed it to the right on a ground-level pass that ended on Sean Longstaff’s right foot and into the net by extension after he touched and redirected it into the net.
That made it five against one and hung the first W on the Magpies' pre-season schedule, to keep growing next week as the club flies to Austria for their bona fide training camp and set of friendlies before the truly hard part of the pre-season starts with games against Benfica, Athletic Bilbao, and Atalanta gearing up for August’s Premier League debut against promoted Nott Forest.
Howe, who opted to deploy two very different teams splitting them into 45-minute chunks, used all of the players listed below in the first and second half of the game.
With this first test in the books, the Magpies are already preparing to take on Munich 1860 on Austrian soil next Friday, July 15th with the kickoff scheduled at 1:30 pm UK (7 am ET) in the first “real” game of the pre-season as part of Newcastle’s 2022 training cup.
Bring it on, Lads!