Toon 0 Augsburg 1

NEWCASTLE 0 AUGSBURG 1

Rafa Benitez turned away from the pitch, grimaced and threw his hands up in the air.

Image result for NEWCASTLE 0 AUGSBURG 1It was frustration. Matt Ritchie had just found himself in the box but having found himself with his back to goal was tackled and the opportunity wasted.

This was 34 minutes into a first half against Augsburg which United dominated.

If not for a brilliant goalkeeping display from Andreas Luthe, the German side would have gone into the break behind. The German stopper pulled off three fantastic saves; first a snapshot from Ayoze Perez, a rocket of an effort from Matt Ritchie and saving with his feet to deny Christian Atsu.

United without Kenedy and Jonjo Shelvey - their two must creative players - bombarded the Augsburg goal.

There were other half chances like the aforementioned Ritchie chance which caused Benitez to turn away or Isaac Hayden’s effort, when the midfielder took a touch too many with the goal gaping.

United were good - Ritchie and Perez excellent - if only for those first 45 minutes.

But Benitez’s frustration was clear to see - this was not just a pre-season friendly - this was the final chance to be ready for the Premier League opener against Tottenham on Saturday.

For all the chances created, United didn’t find the back of the net. While in pre-season this matters little, the top flight is not so forgiving.

Despite all the drama off the pitch, Benitez’s first half frustration can be taken in a positive light.

He wants to win and he’ll do it with the players he’s got - even many of them aren’t his first choice.

If the window shuts and United have failed to add any more players to his ranks, Benitez will be angry and disappointed and the squad will be lacking the quality to take on the rigours of the Premier League (although it is fine margins) but Benitez will work with what he has.

The game against Augsburg showed United in a good light - they can created without arguably their two best players but at the same time, highlighted the need for a goalscorer.

A clinical centre-forward who knows where the back of the net is - Joselu, Dwight Gayle and perhaps even imminent signing Salomon Rondon aren’t that but Benitez will do his best with what he has.

The players trust him to do that - DeAndre Yedlin and Jamaal Lascelles were excellent today - Shelvey, Kenedy and Jacob Murphy had moments of quality when they came off the bench - the players are responding to their manager.

United aren’t all that far away from a squad that can comfortably finish mid-table but then again that’s where Benitez’s frustrations lie - that seemingly that is the height of ambition of the hierarchy and even more so, that they don’t even provide the arrivals to do that.

And whether they get the final piece of the jigsaw all depends on how Lee Charnley, who watched most of the 1-0 defeat, interprets the game.

Does he risk it and believe that only a goalkeeping masterclass stopped United romping home to victory or does he go out in the next week and get the players Benitez desires to make sure those strikes end up in the back of net more often than not?

The next four days really is one of the biggest week’s in United’s future.