The 'honest' Allan Saint-Maximin quotes on Newcastle United which offer an insight into his mindset
In just over a week, St James’s Park, for the first time in almost 19 months, host a Premier League game in front of a proper crowd.
The stadium has been eerily silent for all but one of the top-flight home games staged by Newcastle United since the country went into lockdown in March last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Yet there’s more trepidation than expectation on Tyneside ahead of the new season.
The country’s been unlocked, but the club’s finances are seemingly still in lockdown with a takeover arbitration hearing having been put back to early next year.
And Newcastle are yet to make a signing ahead of the season-opener against West Ham United on August 15.
There’s still time, of course, but supporters are understandably concerned. Many are also angry at what they see is negligence on the part of reluctant owner Mike Ashley, who has been trying to sell the club since late 2017.
Reinforcements will arrive. But will there be enough of them? And will they be good enough to make a difference?
Steve Bruce, the club’s head coach, has been left to make do with last season’s squad, minus former loanee Joe Willock and departed striker Andy Carroll, during a low-key pre-season campaign.
Willock could yet return to St James’s Park – Newcastle have been talking to Arsenal over the summer over a deal – but the club looks short in other areas too, notably up front.
United, again, will have to depend on Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin, and they haven’t been able to play a full part in pre-season through injury and illness respectively.
The squad looks vulnerable to an injury to one or both of them, and a suggestion that Saint-Maximin is “unsettled” will have further unsettled fans.
Saint-Maximin, so influential on the pitch, set out his vision for the club following a 12th-placed finish last season.
"Sometimes, you have to be honest, and Newcastle don't have to be in this position, because I don't think anyone wants to fight every year to not get relegated," he told Stadium Astro.
“For me, Newcastle have the opportunity, and have everything to try to fight for the top 10 and try to win some trophies, because that's why we play football.
"We play football to win games and win trophies, so that's why a lot of the time I feel disappointed, and that's why I say sometimes you have to be honest.
"I don't want to do another season where we fight relegation.
"So I hope the club and everyone tries to do their best to have a really good team for the start of next season."
Saint-Maximin hasn’t spoken so far this pre-season, but those quotes give an insight into his mindset.
The winger, such an influence on the field in his first two seasons at St James’s Park, will surely be as frustrated as the club’s supporters with Newcastle’s lack of ambition so far this summer.
And, unless the club closes some big deals between now and August 31, it’s very hard to see Bruce’s side pushing for a top-10 place – or a trophy.
Instead, the bookmakers believe a relegation fight – just what Saint-Maximin doesn’t want – is more likely.
Returning United fans deserve more than that this season.