The Steve Bruce chant that got Newcastle United fans talking
Newcastle United reported a loss off the field ahead of the new Premier League season, but Steve Bruce needs wins on the pitch.
And, thankfully, the club will go into the new campaign on the back of a morale-boosting home win over top-flight opposition.
The club’s latest set of financial accounts revealed a £54million operating loss – £22.5million after tax – for the period up to July 31 last year.
And those figures have had a knock-on effect this season, with Bruce, yet to sign a player, having a limited transfer budget.
There were chants of “Brucie, give us a wave” from the Strawberry corner – Bruce obliged from the dugout – but the mood among many supporters ahead of the new season is as bleak as the clouds that passed over St James’s Park during this afternoon’s 3-0 win over Norwich City.
Bruce knows he needs to keep fans on his side inside the stadium – and that’s easier said than done given the climate on Tyneside.
United’s head coach was spared boos and chants against him during a difficult few months last season by the coronavirus pandemic, which forced football to go behind closed doors.
The turnstiles, thankfully, are open again, and the Norwich game was watched by a 20,139 crowd.
St James’s Park’s had a lick of paint, but it’s the team which really needs freshening up. A move for Arsenal’s Joe Willock has stalled – the club is looking at other options – and a breakthrough isn’t imminent ahead of the new Premier League season.
So much, it seems, this season will depend on the fitness and availability of Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin.
Wilson and Saint-Maximin returned from injury and illness respectively for the Norwich game. Wilson started the club’s final pre-season friendly, though he didn’t see much of the ball in the early stages as Daniel Farke’s side attempted to take the game to their hosts.
Freddie Woodman, on standby to make his Premier League debut next weekend, had to be alert in the early stages of the fixture.
Newcastle grew into the game, though newly-promoted Norwich looked the more dangerous side for much of the half.
Bruce sent on Saint-Maximin, Ryan Fraser and Jonjo Shelvey after the break. United looked to use the pace of Saint-Maximin, and the winger had Tim Krul, warmly applauded on his return to St James’s Park, scrambling out of his box during one attack.
Newcastle took the lead in the 55th minute thanks to Matt Ritchie, who forced a loose ball home from close range.
More changes followed, and Dwight Gayle had an impact minutes after his 67th-minute introduction. Gayle beat Krul with a lovely finish with the outside of his boot to make it 2-0 after a quick break forward with fellow substitute Ryan Fraser, who also brought his pace to bear after the break.
Gayle capped a much-improved second-half performance with a third Newcastle goal late in the game.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Woodman, Murphy (Manquillo, 80), Krafth (Lascelles 67), Fernandez (Schar, 67), Clark (Watts, 84), Ritchie (Lewis, 67), Hayden (Hendrick 67), S Longstaff (Shelvey, 46), Almiron (Saint-Maximin 46), Joelinton (Fraser, 46), Wilson (Gayle, 67). Subs not used: Gillespie, M Longstaff, Langley.