WHAT a busy summer it has been! It seems that football hasn’t stopped with the World Cup, Women’s Super League and friendlies.

Newcastle United have had a great deal to do following the disappointing second half of last season.

Debuchy has gone and the money received, with that left by Cabaye’s sale, has been put to good use.

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Last Sunday saw the visit of Real Sociedad and a 1-0 win, thanks to a superb strike by Moussa Sissoko. It gave us and the home support the first opportunity to assess Alan Pardew’s activities.

What we witnessed was a “pre-season”

game but with lots of positives and glimpses of things to come.

New signing, Darryl Janmaat was my ‘man of the match’ defending and linking- up well down the right-hand side.

Remy Cabella showed neat touches and the creativity that was sometimes previously lacking.

Rolando Aarons showed promise down the left in the second-half.

For the first time for a long time we had two wingers.

Gabriel Obertan operated well down the right, carrying on his good pre-season form.

What was lacking was the finishing touch (for 88 minutes at least).

Many commentators and members of the press agree with the manager that another striker is needed; they would also like another centre-back.

The main thing that was apparent was we definitely have a squad, with competition for places and young players coming through the Academy.

It is also Alan Pardew’s squad; there is no Joe Kinnear to blame.

You may think the wealth of transfer activity would silence, or at least quieten, the critics but other things continue to feed them.

The saga involving the future of crowd-pleaser Hatem Ben Arfa and the apparent “Golden Ticket” scheme for player interviews may run and run, causing what the club is doing right to be over-shadowed.

The season starts with a Home game, thankfully, with the visit of the Manchester City.

The champions are probably not the opponents you would want to meet on the first day of the season, especially a week after they lost the Charity Shield.

Let us hope that we are not the whipping boys for the heavy defeat they suffered against Arsenal.

JOHN MIDDLETON