Sometimes, doing little over the summer months can represent a successful pre-season and to that end, it is so far, so good for Newcastle United.
As much as manager Alan Pardew would love to add to a squad that defied all expectations to claim fifth place in the Premier League last term, finishing above Chelsea and qualifying for the Europa League in the process, it is keeping the personnel at his disposal that will be the former Southampton manager’s primary concern.
Thankfully for Pardew, it is all quiet on the western front as far as that is concerned. There have been rumoured suitors for all of the Toon’s star names – Demba Ba, Cheick Tiote, Papiss Cisse, Tim Krul, Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa – but as of yet nothing more concrete has materialised, which must delight Pardew as he plots to somehow match last year’s terrific campaign.
Of course, owner Mike Ashley, who strangely doesn’t seem to get as much flak from the crowd as he used to, will sell any player if the price is right (and then 18 months later try and loan him back and only pay 20% of his wages if Andy Carroll is anything to go by), so it is not clear cut that there won’t be movement, but at the moment things couldn’t be better for Newcastle.
After a couple of pre-season matches in Germany – a 1-0 defeat to Chemnitzer and a 1-0 victory over Monaco – the Toon have flown to Austria to face Turkish side Fenerbahce, who lost their Super Liga crown last season, finishing second behind Galatasaray, but won the Turkish Cup to give coach Aykut Kocaman two major trophies in his two years in charge.
It has the makings of a fine friendly and the odds suggest it could be close. Newcastle are 11/10, with the draw at 11/5 and Fenerbahce the 21/10 outsiders and it is a rather difficult match to call.
As everyone knows, the standard of Turkish football has improved immensely over the last 20 years and Fenerbahce are now able to attract players of world renown, such as Dirk Kuyt, who has just signed from Liverpool .
Together with Semih Senturk, Kuyt forms a strike force that can give Newcastle problems, which makes the 11/10 a bit too short in the volatile friendly market.
But Newcastle have proved hard to beat themselves under Pardew’s astute organisation and I wouldn’t be steaming into a Fenerbahce win.
So by process of elimination, the draw at 11/5, to a small stake, is the safest punt on a match between two pretty impressive sides.
And with winnings of £64 on offer for anyone successfully backing it with their free £20 bet for joining bwin.com it could provide a decent pre-season boost to the betting balance.
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