Newcastle United announced their pre-season schedule yesterday, but are they preparing for the 2019-20 campaign the right way?
There is still no formal agreement between Newcastle United and Rafa Benitez, but the Magpies are moving forward with their summer plans as they announced their pre-season schedule yesterday. Newcastle United will only play one of their four exhibition matches on Tyneside and that will take place one week before the 2019-20 Premier League campaign kicks off.
Newcastle United will face two Premier League teams when they compete in the Premier League Asia Trophy tournament in China, one team from Scotland and one team from France. On July 17th, the Toon will take on Wolverhampton and three days later they will either face Manchester City or West Ham. Upon the conclusion of the tournament in China, Newcastle United will travel to Scotland on July 30th to face Hibernian. The final pre-season match will see Newcastle United host AS Saint-Etienne at St. James’ Park on August 3rd. Now that we know who Newcastle United will face and when, let’s analyze the quality of this pre-season schedule.
Premier League Opponents
There is not much to say here as the quality of the other three teams in the tournament is well-known. Manchester City won the league, Wolverhampton finished in seventh place and West Ham took the final spot in the top ten. The problem, however, is that this tournament was created more for brand exposure in the Asian market than it was to prepare teams for next season.
Hibernian ended the 2018-19 Scottish Premiership campaign in fifth place with 54 points. This marks the club’s second consecutive top five finish in Scotland, so it is fair to say that Hibernian’s quality is most comparable to mid-table Championship sides in England. That being said, Newcastle United should not be challenged much in this match and an experimental lineup will certainly be deployed.
The Magpies will wrap things up against a quality opponent and that is exactly what the club needs one week before Premier League action gets underway. AS Saint-Etienne have finished in the top ten of Ligue 1 every season since the 2010-11 campaign. This season, AS Saint-Etienne have secured a fourth-place finish and are set to compete in the UEFA Europa League next season. This match will serve as a good test for Newcastle United and it will shed light on the club’s key strengths and vulnerabilities late in the summer.