Extraordinary Newcastle United buzz signals start of something special

From 7am this morning, Newcastle United’s players started arriving at the club’s training ground.

Friday, 1st July 2022, 1:05 pm

The squad was given staggered arrival times for fitness testing on the first day of pre-season.

It was an unusually early start, but there’s no time to waste.

Then, it was time to head out on to the grass under the watchful eye of Howe, who had returned to the North East earlier in the week following a well-earned summer break.

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Newcastle United players report back for pre-season training

The work starts now. As builders start work on a much-needed extension to the club’s outdated training ground, Howe and his backroom team are slowly building up to the new season, which kicks off on August 6 with a home game against Nottingham Forest.

That game will be sold out, as will, most likely, every fixture at St James’s Park this season – and every away end up and down the country – given what the club has described as “unprecedented” demand for tickets from United fans.

We’ve not felt, and witnessed, this kind of excitement on Tyneside ahead of a new season for a long, long time, not even when Rafa Benitez was manager.

Newcastle United's training ground is being extended.

Benitez, of course, had to contend with then-owner Mike Ashley. Things are different for Howe, who was appointed late last year by an ambitious ownership group looking to rejuvenate the club.

Some big, big players, notably Bruno Guimaraes and Kieran Trippier, have already arrived at St James’s Park since that takeover – and more will follow Sven Botman, the club’s latest signing. These are exciting times.

This is a big season, and there are big challenges ahead of Howe and his players, who finished 11th last season.

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.

And this month is all-important.

Howe inherited a group of players which co-owner Amanda Staveley admitted wasn’t fit enough, and he’ll work his players intensively on the training ground ahead of next weekend’s behind-closed-doors game against Gateshead.

By the time fans get their first look at a refreshed St James’s Park – the stadium’s concourses and bars are being given a makeover – on July 29 when Atalanta visit for a friendly, a refreshed group will be all but ready to go ahead of the new Premier League season.