Pre-Season Already A Mess!

Last updated : 10 July 2019 By Footy Mad - Editor

Newcastle United's pre-season schedule certainly looks lighter than it has done in recent years, with the Magpies only playing four friendlies before their Premier League opener against Arsenal next month.

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The last time Newcastle's list of warm-up games ahead of a new season looked so slender was way back in 2006, when United played just three friendlies - although they also had three European qualification matches to play as well.

While Rafa Benitez may have departed at the start of this month as manager, it was the 59-year-old who signed off the upcoming pre-season schedule and helped arrange the warm-up fixtures.

Admittedly, however, Benitez was never fully in favour of the lucrative trip to China for the Premier League Asia Trophy later this month, during which Newcastle will take on Wolverhampton Wanderers, before facing either West Ham United or back-to-back English champions Manchester City in their second fixture.

Having scrapped the usual pre-season training camp at Carton House in the Republic of Ireland - where Benitez took the Newcastle squad ahead of each of his three full campaigns in charge - the former manager helped organise a schedule which sees United return to Britain after their trip to East Asia for a friendly against Hibernian at Easter Road, before the annual warm-up fixture at St James' Park against Saint-Etienne on the first Saturday of August.

With the search for Benitez's successor on-going, Academy coaches Ben Dawson and Neil Redfearn have been tasked with overseeing the start of pre-season training - and, with the squad flying out to China this weekend, the pair are on standby to oversee the first set of friendlies in the event that a permanent manager is not in place by that stage, although the Magpies still hope to avoid that eventuality.

It is curious that Benitez and the Newcastle backroom staff decided to go with a schedule comprising just four games, although the lengthy 10-day gap between the second and third fixtures is probably due to the fact United have to travel across several time-zones during that week.

The last time the Magpies played four or fewer friendlies during a summer was 13 years ago, when United had just three warm-up games ahead of the 2006/07 season - although they also played three competitive fixtures before the Premier League campaign began.

In fact, Newcastle's first match of any form that term was a competitive one, with Newcastle defeating Norwegian side Lillestrom 4-1 on aggregate in the Intertoto Cup third round.

Newcastle United have work to do this summer with a new manager to find - and new signings before next month's deadline.


Newcastle United's pre-season
Pre-season 2019/20 - Four matches

Newcastle United vs Wolverhampton Wanderers - Wednesday, July 17, 2019*

Newcastle United vs Manchester City or West Ham United - Saturday, July 20, 2019*

Hibernian vs Newcastle United - Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Newcastle United vs Saint-Etienne - August 3, 2019

*These games will be played in China during the Premier League Asia Trophy