Summer plans offer KK's side a stern test

By Lee Ryder on Jun 25, 08 06:24 PM

You can never get carried with friendlies but for Newcastle United fans they'll certainly be able to make an accurate measurement of where their side are at after the pre-season programme, which was announced today, is completed next month.

The now almost annual trip to Hartlepool will revive fond memories for Kevin Keegan with Victoria Park (or Victoria Ground as it was then) the scene of Peter Beardsley's second coming with the Toon in 1993.

KK then makes an emotional return to Doncaster for a game at the still sparkling Keepmoat Stadium for game two before the big boys enter the fray.

For it will be at the Son Moix stadium in Mallorca that the Toon Army will perhaps get a clear indication of what lies ahead for the season.

You're on a hiding to nothing when it comes to friendly games, look at last season an Alan Smith goal against Sampdoria and a 1-0 win didn't give us a true picture of what lay ahead.

But in 2006 when United were 3-0 down to PSV Eindhoven (before losing 3-2) and 3-1 down to Villarreal (drew 3-3), United's defensive woes suggested that a long winter lay ahead for Glenn Roeder and of course it did.

This time around fixtures with Bundesliga outfit Hertha Berlin and La Liga boys Real Mallorca will take place on the sunny party island before a testing affair with Valencia who should arrive with David Villa on board.

It's certainly a balanced fixture list but one that KK has carefully selected and one that will give both fringe players and key first team members a chance to show exactly what they can or can't do.

New faces may be on board by then for Newcastle but Toon fans will either be encouraged or for some they'll have further doubts just where the Magpies will finish the up and comin 2008/09 season.



ron lambert said:

Massive question Lee, but as you said, there are a few fringe players just chomping at the bit for a shot at the big time. If young Kazenga Lua Lua got a start and played the whole game like his twenty or so minutes against Stoke, then we might be looking at our new midfield schemer. The same with Edgar in defence and other young lads. Milner was only sixteen when he burst onto the scene at Leeds, imagine what Keegan's influence on young raw talent like him would've been from then 'til now, or with the good kids I've just mentioned. Of course we need a bigger squad, and more experienced lads to replace those left/leaving but these upcoming games are perfect blooding grounds for our better youth. We certainly won't be signing any of the Euro-stars except for maybe the unimpressive Gomis, but there are still good players out there such as Souazo, Acquafresco, Cetin and Diane.....even that London/Turkish guy Colin Kazim Richards who blew me away, probably a big 4 target now. This summer fixture though, will be a great place to measure ourselves with Keegan's first pre-season in charge. I can't help but feeling slightly optimistic for the first time this summer.

Anonymous said:

Yes lee, I am sure the friendlies will be a good test of where we are at for the new season, which at present is quite frankly and scaringly worrying as we have made no signings to improve on last seasons shambles. As a season ticket holder you always remain optimistic, but after 15 years at the games you have to start being realistic and realising that unless we spend big (which we won't) then we are going to be another mid-table club. Let's be honest keegan is right, we are a mile off the top 4 and would struggle to compete point for point with the likes of even Everton. If Ashley has grilled Keegan for putting the club down and then is stressing over the wage bill, then I am very surprised that keegan has not walked by now, as we all know Keegan likes to spend and play attractive football and if he isn't aloud to do that then he may as well return back to the other circus, with Ashley. Would love us to sign some decent players of the highest calibre but get the feeling that we will be left with the ones who can't quite make the big time. Talk of a 15 year old signing for us, champions league your having a laugh.
I hope I'm 100% wrong but I have a feeling it is goijg to be a long season, again. But like the rest of us geordie addicts, we will continue supporing through thick and thin!!!


STEVE said:

ANONYMOUS,nearly all the mags i know share the same concerns as looks like theres no way we are gonna get turan or arshavin and end up with kids or the dregs nobody else wants.....and if this IS the case, then yeah,playing hartlepool and doncaster are gonna be stern tests....obviously i hope i am wrong......ASHLEY....GET THE CASH OUT AND LEAVE THE REST TO KEEGAN, NOT WISE AND THE BOYS...

Mal said:

Patience is the name of the game. We aren't going to get Arda, Arshavin etc. but as ron says there are still good players out there who will come and improve the squad overall. As kk showed in the last few games we have the basis of a decent team. We've cleared out a load of deadwood and I'm certain kk will make a few shrewd additions. I can't understand the sudden criticism of Ashley as he is the first owner we've had who has put loads of his own money into the club and at last is forcing us to take a longer term view of our future. We are unlikely to be challenging the big 4 next year but I see no reason why we won't be challenging for a top 6 spot - I'm happy to trust the ashley/keegan partnership unless actual results prove otherwise.

mag in boro said:

have to agree with anon...for the first time i many years hope for the new season has abandoned me replaced with fear the big kick off..
we were not good enough to compete last season and with no additional quality being added it could be a very long year

Mike Ashley came along to save us from the fat scrapman.yes we all know he spent a lot of money initially buying the club also clearing the debts but he stated the funds would be there to strengthen the squad
still not convinced jimenez wise and llambias the trio to take us forward (how the hell denis wise got a job at our club is still baffling)

all talk seems to be of players leaving sjp.given martins milner shola(ok thats acceptable)and with emre gone and barton still looking likely to be further engaged after the dabo case a small squad could be depleted even more

credit to ashley and co for bringing in some top quality youngsters but they still couple seasons away from being ready to fight for starting places the cash has to be made available for keegan now otherwise we in for a long season

Charles said:

I am really concerned now. I have all but given up hope on getting Turan and Arshavin. Thanks a lot for stalling until the Euro started, we could have at least got Turan before then.

Well, if he rather go to any club, I hope him well, but like all those who snub Newcastle for fame and glory, sod off. Really was expecting at least Turan to come, but alas, it was not to be.

Now, we are stuck without any transfers. Hopefully KK dont blow his veins when he heard Ashley only have 20M for him to spend. Really, even Sunderland has more than us.

'Julio Baptista linked with Newcastle'. With any luck he'll vote us instead of Roma, but like the rest it'll probably down to funds. 15M for him is insane, I'd fancy him at 9M.

With the transfer window fast approaching the middle, all we got to show off is getting 'New Rooney' Spear, and even that hasn't been confirmed yet. I don't think Wise is getting in KK's way though, he gets the whole job after all.

With Ashley trying to be a businessman in football, we can concentrate on lamenting about the recent news. Not that I believe it, but I find it really astounding to hear Martins sold for 15M. That's another down the drain...

Seriously, I'm here to back Newcastle up, his owner, his director and KK but I just cannot see any further than you guys. It'll probably be the same line up for all we know, maybe an extra loss in every position. (We know A.Smith is never going. Don't know what possess Big Sam to get him in the first place, for 6M! Whatever it is, I'll pay 3000 pounds to the man that tells me the voodoo to sell that man at more than we pay for.)

ron lambert said:

Wask = what a sad ****. GERROUT O' HERE!

mag in boro said: just reminded me no matter how bad things might get we still have your sad bunch to pity and lee you are being charitable with your predictions for them

roy c said:

Not sure what KK will do next season but whatever it is it should not include Joey Barton. Having watched the video footage in the Chronicle and read the report of the attack on a fellow pro at Man City this person should be sent packing asap - his name tarnishes the name and reputation of a great club and a great city.


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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