Pre-season has come to a close and we are now building up towards the start of the Premier League season. Our North London neighbours might be kicking off the season with a game against Leicester but those of us with any sense will be well aware that the good stuff starts on Sunday.
And I’m not talking about Manchester United v the Hammers.
I don’t have pleasant memories of games against Newcastle. The club themselves used to be entertaining back in the days of Keegan, Ginola and Albert but that fairydust dissipated a long time ago and this current club aren’t about being the entertainers, it’s just about being in the Premier League.
Newcastle spent heavily to get back into the league and have laid out some money to bring in players like Lejeune, Atsu and Jacob Murphy but this is basically the same side that competed in the Championship last season.
Their front line doesn’t exactly strike fear into your heart, Premier League defences have faced Mitrovic and Dwight Gayle before and handled them with relative ease. If Newcastle United are to stay up this time round, (they really should) they’re going to need to be cannier and make use of the tricky wide players they have in the squad.
The last time Newcastle were in the Premier League, they beat us home and away and we have often struggled against them even when our form going into the games has looked good.
Spurs, of course, have signed no-one. We’re also going through an injury crisis that has shown up before we even kick a ball in anger. Danny Rose, Erik Lamela, Heung-Min Son and Kieran Trippier are all expected to miss this one through injury (ok, we don’t know about Trippier yet but let’s be realistic.
We may need to start the game with Moussa Sissoko and the last good league game he had was in a Newcastle shirt against us.
While we’ve got Harry Kane, we’ve got a chance. Every team in the league would like him and a fair few abroad. He looks sharp going into the new season and once again, our hopes of a good season rest with him staying fit.
These early games scare me a little, we don’t have a deep squad, our only established right back might be injured for a short while (fingers crossed it’s just that) and we don’t have a good habit of starting the season strong. Too many draws early in the season have cost us recently and I don’t want to see the same again.
The week ahead sees us not only trying to compete in the league but also in the transfer market. I’m sure we’ll make a move at some point but it won’t be the big, splashy, £60m transfers we’ve seen from other clubs. Those kind of players are unlikely to come to us anyway, they’ll want the kind of higher wages that the oil charged clubs and Manchester United can offer. Even Liverpool blow us away on wages.
Any players we do bring in need to be better than some of the players we’ve signed in the last few seasons. N’jie, Stambouli, Fazio and their ilk weren’t right for the club and we can’t afford to be making costly mistakes at a time where funds are severely hampered by the new stadium build.
Players will join but it will be for a reasonable price and on the understanding they need to fight for their place.
Poch won’t allow players to think they can just slide into the team and that’s just the way I like it.