In the first challenging match of Newcastle’s pre-season, facing Rangers at Ibrox Park, the lads went away with a 2-1 victory on the road.
The Magpies showcased their tactical mettle and determination as they continue their preparations for the upcoming season, with most of the first-team players and projected starters for the 2023/24 campaign already getting heavy minutes and featuring prominently for Eddie Howe’s side.
The first remarkable action came by way of the Tonali-Anderson-Miggy trifecta connecting for the opening goal, courtesy of Miguel Almirón in the 16th minute of play.
However, Rangers proved to be a somewhat strong opponent, though, and midway through the second half Sam Lammers capitalized on a miscommunication between substitutes Karl Darlow and Bruno Guimaraes to restore parity for the home team, making it all a 1-1 affair.
With the game approaching the end and already into the final five minutes, Harrison Ashby added his name to the scoreboard by heading in a cross by reserve Alexander Isak down the left flank, thus securing the victory for Newcastle United in the 87th minute.
The game saw notable debuts and strong performances from several key players. Sandro Tonali showcased his talent on the field after arriving from AC Milan a few days ago and appearing for the first time donning Newcastle threads and creating what would end up being the first goal of his new team.
Kieran Trippier, Fabian Schar, Sven Botman, Sean Longstaff, Miguel Almiron, and Callum Wilson all provided solid contributions from the outset in their first game together and playing with some rusty legs that we hope will get greased before the Premier League ball gets rolling in August.
Newcastle adopted the typical 4-3-3 system apt players at each of those roles and positions, not like in the game against Gateshead where something like seven full-backs were deployed all across the field if only because of the lack of warm bodies available.
Despite the squad’s promising display, the absence of Allan Saint-Maximin was felt and worrying if you care about the future of the Frencham in Newcastle. The winger and NUFC are reportedly holding negotiations with Al Ahli over a potential move to the Saudi Pro League side, which is something that was heavily discussed before, during, and after yesterday’s match.
While Howe refrained from discussing Saint-Maximin’s future in definitive terms, the manager’s statements signaled a possible farewell to a player that, honestly, deserves much better than moving to the lesser and oft-forgotten Saudi league.
“When I spoke to him on Monday, there was actually a lot of emotion between us,” Howe told reporters. “I don’t want to speak for Allan but when a player has done very well for you, which Allan has for me, I’m very grateful for every player that commits and gives their all for the team.”
As the pre-season unfolds, Newcastle United strives to address its depth concerns in certain areas, ensuring they emerge as a well-rounded and competitive force in the forthcoming season. The first order of business is selling Saint-Maximin, and that will reportedly be followed by the arrival of Leicester City winger Harvey Barnes for a reported fee “at around the £35-40m mark.“
Victory in our second game of pre-season.— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) July 18, 2023
Thank you for your wonderful support at Ibrox tonight! pic.twitter.com/gZRBCvE29p
The team’s recent victory against the Rangers serves as an encouraging sign of their progress under Howe’s guidance in the first truly competitive match the team has played since they wrapped up their Champions League-bound campaign in the Premier League.
Newcastle will embark on a trip to the United States next where they will face Chelsea (July 27) and Brighton (July 29) in Atlanta and New Jersey respectively in the Premier League Summer Series before returning home to St James’ Park where they’ll host Fiorentina (Aug. 5) and Villarreal (Aug. 6) as part of the Sela Cup.