Newcastle United fans take aim at Premier League and Steve Bruce amid takeover and transfer frustration
There’s a lot of work to be done at Newcastle United – on and off the pitch.
The problem is that time’s running out before the new Premier League campaign kicks off.
Steve Bruce’s side hasn’t yet been strengthened, and the squad is weaker than it was at the end of last season as the club has re-signed former loanee Joe Willock, who has been linked with a move to Monaco.
Bruce needs Willock back at the club. In fact, United’s head coach needs all the help that he can get.
Newcastle’s travellings fans, frustrated that the arbitration hearing which will decide on a proposed £300million takeover has been delayed until early next year, chanted against the Premier League during tonight’s 1-1 draw against League One club Rotherham United.
They also rounded on Bruce late in the game.
Certainly, there’s precious little optimism on Tyneside ahead of the new campaign.
The game saw the turnstiles of the AESSEAL New York Stadium opened for the first time in 515 days – and Newcastle’s third pre-season friendly was watched by a crowd of 4,370.
Bruce was without Allan Saint-Maximin, who missed the game through illness. Joelinton also sat out the fixture because of a thigh injury.
Freddie Woodman – who had to self-isolate along with Mark Gillespie for 10 days after Karl Darlow tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this month – started in goal for the first time in two years.
Matt Ritchie, meanwhile, was fielded out of position as a right wing-back with Javier Manquillo sidelined.
The pitch was sodden following a pre-match downpour in South Yorkshire, though the skies had cleared by the time United’s players took to the field in front of 1,488 travelling fans.
Newcastle found Rotherham, quick, direct and strong, difficult to deal with early in the game, and Paul Warne’s side took the lead in the ninth minute through an unchallenged Michael Smith header from a left-wing Mickel Miller cross.
The home side, playing with intensity and fluency, kept on coming, and United struggled to get out of their own half for the first 30 minutes. Newcastle rallied late in the half, and Sean Longstaff put a rare chance for the below-par visitors over the bar.
Rotherham, with former United midfielder Dan Barlaser influential in the middle, succeeded in subduing the away end.
Callum Wilson shot narrowly wide before the break, and there were a few boos from fans when referee Andrew Madley blew the half-time whistle.
Bruce sent on Gillespie, Jacob Murphy, Paul Dummett and Kelland Watts for the second half, and there was more intent on the ball. Ritchie took a midfield role following the introduction of Murphy.
Federico Fernandez headed a Ritchie free-kick at goal, but his effort was superbly stopped by Viktor Johansson. Sean Longstaff also tested Johansson during a good spell from Newcastle, while Dwight Gayle shot wide.
There were more changes as fans chanted against the Premier League – they also vented their frustration at Bruce – and substitute Hendrick levelled with an 84th-minute header.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Woodman (Gillespie, 46), Ritchie (Schar, 64), Fernandez (Krafth, 64), Lascelles (Watts, 46), Clark (Dummett, 46), Lewis, S Longstaff (Young, 80), Hayden (M Longstaff, 73), Wilson (Hendrick, 73), Gayle (White 77), Fraser (Murphy, 46). Subs not used: Langley, Bondswell.