Newcastle were much better against Augsburg than they had been against Braga – even if the ultimate outcome was the same.
Michael Gregoritsch headed home from close range to consign United to a second successive friendly defeat on the day United chalked up a third straight goalless game in pre-season.
But Newcastle’s performance was pretty enterprising for the most part, with United only missing the finishing touch that has deserted them for most of the summer.
Newcastle will finally broker a deal for Salomon Rondon in the coming hours with Dwight Gayle going the other way on loan. It’s been a tortuous process and it represents a start but let’s not pretend it is a panacea.
Rondon has not scored more than 10 goals in any of the three seasons he’s been at Albion and has 24 goals in 108 in the Premier League. It is not the solution to the problems that were front and centre against Augsburg – namely that United are frightening toothless in front of goal at times.
This is not new information: Joselu’s presence in four of the five pre-season games coincided with a run of three goalless matches in pre-season and they will face better opposition in the Premier League.
So Newcastle are playing with fire if they continue to deny Benitez the funds that are required to add another forward on top of the Rondon deal that is close.
The manager knows that. He did not want to sacrifice Gayle in this way – a permanent move for the number nine and re-investing the cash in another striker was his first choice, keeping Gayle his second – but it is the only way Newcastle have been able to broker what should have been an easy deal.
It’s such a confusing and bewildering picture. Can the owner, Justin Barnes or Lee Charnley – whoever it is who is making the final call this week, because it seems interchangeable to those dealing with the club – not see that they are risking Newcastle’s Premier League survival by not investing in goals?