I’m typing these words forty minutes after the end of the transfer window and the feeling of frustration is such that it’s very difficult not to just bash the keys with extreme violence and just rant. 

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How can we not have found a way to improve the side/squad during the summer when judging by other clubs’ signings, there were opportunities there? How? Or maybe it should be ‘why?’. Why did we not take the one of the options available to shore up an ailing central midfield at least?  

The only answer can be money. We don’t have any. The stadium spending is such that we could not afford a Kovacic, Fabinho, Seri or Jorginho. As it turned out, we couldn’t even afford a Grealish. 

Well that’s it, it’s done and dusted. Nothing more to be said. At least if Rose, Toby or anyone else leaves now, it won’t be to a domestic rival. All very frustrating. 

St James’s Park then for the first outing. 

As usual, the natives in the North East are revolting and also as usual, it’s with just cause. Benitez is still there and Kenedy, who made such a difference to them after Christmas as well, but the supporters still haven’t seen the investment from Mike Ashley they want and have been promised. They have lost forwards Gayle and Mitrovic; Fernandez and Ki have signed from relegated Swansea, Rondon is on loan from West From and Japanese striker Muto and Swiss defender Schar have also joined. So, bargain basement shopping but, at least they made some effort. 

Despite this, I suspect Newcastle fans will be feeling slightly more optimistic than this time last year. They flirted with an immediate return to the Championship with a terrible run during November and December but in the end stayed up comfortably despite losing four of their last five games. Dubravka and Kenedy were inspired January window signings and Lascelles and Shelvey started showing enough form to come into World Cup conversations.  

There has been little of encouragement from the pre-season friendlies mind. There were draws with Hull and Porto and defeats to Augsburg and Braga. Only St Patrick’s Athletic have been put to the sword, (2-0). Mo Diame has been injured but may be fit for the weekend, Dubravka also. Lejeune is out for a while. 

Our preseason was a bit of a mess given the lack of so many players given extended holidays. Poch would’ve been pleased to give some of the youngsters such good workouts but also very disappointed that Wanyama and Lamela at least look like they’ll be injured for the weekend. He tried playing a 4-3-3 in several games which is obviously something to look out for as he’s always after another string to the bow.  

The form of Lucas will have pleased him and he’s a cert to start on Saturday probably along with Son & Eriksen. Llorente and N’Koudou failed to make the most of their preseason opportunities meaning that Harry may be thrown straight in. Dier will almost certainly start in centre midfield but alongside who is anyone’s guess. Amos may be this season’s Walker-Peters. At the back I suspect it’ll be Davies, Aurier, Vertonghen and Sanchez. 

It’s idle speculation of course, it’s impossible to tell how fit/ready anyone is. 

We can expect a very tough match and I think the bookies are being tight by making us Evens favourites. 

We have the firepower to win and assuming we can make enough chances to make use of it, we should do so. 


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