NEWCASTLE UNITED rounded off their preparations for the new season with a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad at a rain-soaked St James’ Park yesterday.
Moussa Sissoko struck in the 88th minute to seal the win for the Magpies ahead of next Sunday’s Premier League opener with Manchester City.
It was Alan Pardew’s first appearance in front of a home crowd since the final home game of last season - a 3-0 win over Cardiff City – which saw the Magpies boss confined to his dugout after he was booed by the crowd early on.
Pardew, who did not give any media interviews post-match, spent the majority of yesterday’s game giving instructions from the touchline and it appears the club’s summer spending has gone some way to appeasing the fans with neither a positive nor negative reception for the manager.
It has been an uncharacteristically busy summer at St James’ Park with nine new arrivals in total and six of those were on show against Sociedad.
In his matchday programme column, captain Fabricio Coloccini revealed the new faces have given boosted the squad ahead of the new season.
“With seven new signings our squad has a very different look to it from the last time we played here, and that is a good thing.
“The new arrivals have given everyone a lift, they are good guys and most importantly they are good players who have added even more quality to the team.”
Pardew handed home debuts to Daryl Janmaat, Jack Colback, Remy Cabella and Emmanuel Riviere with two other new signings – Facundo Ferreyra and Ayoze Perez – coming on from the bench.
The Magpies’ most recent arrivals Jamaal Lascelles and Karl Darlow have headed straight back to former club Nottingham Forest on loan and the only new signing absent from the squad was Siem de Jong.
The Dutchman is struggling with a calf injury ahead of next weekend’s season opener and it remains to be seen whether he will be fit to face Manchester City on Sunday.
Chieck Tiote is another concern with a hamstring injury and in the early stages of yesterday’s game it looked as if Pardew had another problem when Yoan Gouffran went down with a knee injury.
The Frenchman looked in some discomfort as he limped off, but managed to continue until he was replaced by academy product Rolando Aarons at half time. It was a low key affair in front of 19,188 on Tyneside with little in the way of chances for either side.
Newcastle started playing their familiar 4-2-3-1 system with Gouffran, Sissoko and Cabella supporting Riviere, but midway through the first half the Magpies reverted to 4-4-1-1 with Cabella pushing forward to support the striker.
Cabella is Newcastle’s most expensive purchase this summer at £12m and the attacking midfielder showed plenty of neat touches and fancy footwork that earned him a standing ovation when he was taken off in the second half.
Janmaat also caught the eye down the right and Newcastle’s first sniff at goal came through the defender when his cross towards the near post was almost met by Riviere in the 26th minute.
The visitors responded two minutes later when Carlos Martinez sent Imanol Igirretxe through but Tim Krul comfortably collected the striker’s shot.
After his cheeky chip against Hudderfield Town on Tuesday night, Cabella went close to scoring another following good work from Colback and Riviere, but Geronimo Rulli tipped over before the linesman flagged for offside.
Aarons continued his impressive pre-season as a second half substitute and has surely put himself in the frame to be involved next weekend, with his trickery and running giving Newcastle a fresh impetus after the break.
The Magpies looked more dangerous in the final third with Aarons and Cabella the stand out players on show.
Newcastle went close to taking a 60th minute lead when Colback found Mike Williamson from a corner, but his header was tipped over by Rulli.
Steven Taylor, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Mehdi Abeid, Facundo Ferreyra and Ajoze Perez were all introduced in the second half.
The latter made an instant impact when he combined with Cabella to create a chance, but Sociedad managed to clear before the Spaniard could connect with the ball.
The deadlock was broken with two minutes left on the clock after good work by Perez and Gabriel Obertan set up Sissoko to drill a low curling effort inside the far post.
It means Newcastle have lost only two of their warm-up games – against Oldham and Malaga – winning five and drawing once.
Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Krul; Janmaat (Amrstrong, 85), Coloccini (Yanga-Mbiwa, 67), Williamson (S Taylor, 67), Haidara (Dummett, 59); Colback (Obertan, 59), Anita (Abeid, 67); Sissoko, Cabella (Ferreyra, 74), Gouffran (Aarons, 46); Riviere (Perez, 67).
Subs (not used): Alnwick.