Miles Starforth with the Shields Gazette has published an interview with Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles.
Here is some of what he said about what has certainly been an abnormal pre-season.
“It’s been an interesting pre-season for us, obviously, not having a manager to start off with.
“But now the gaffer’s in, things have been going well. The boys are enjoying his training sessions, and I think we have done pretty well in the games we’ve played.
“The boys have really enjoyed it – I definitely have.”
We do get the impression that the squad have enjoyed this pre-season since Steve Bruce has come in. They seem to have insulated themselves from any distractions since they came back to start training. Though at first Jamaal gave a hint to being a bit apprehensive as to what he was returning too.
“I thought I was going to have a real tough job on my hands.
“With Ben (Dawson) coming in as head of the Academy, I thought maybe the boys might not listen and some of them could sack it off.
“Maybe that could happen with other teams, but in fairness to the boys, we remained professional, really respected Ben, and we’ve all really respected the gaffer since he come in.”
We were very concerned when the players first returned and looked for any signs of unrest or discontent. However, the players got to work and have all acted completely professionally.
It is a testament to the leadership and integrity of this group that none were negatively affected by the situation with the manager.
Once Bruce did come in, the players seemed to relish a return to normalcy and then worked to learn the intricacies of the new head coach. They seem to be a content group and the new signings have also bedded in quite well.
“We weren’t sure how it was going to be, but he’s a lively manager, the door’s always open, he has banter with us, but when we train, we work hard.
“It’s been really professional. We’ve been doing a lot of running, and we’re all really fit and we’ll be flying on Sunday.”
While this has been on the whole not what the fans of this club had ultimately hoped for. It’s up to this group of players and this staff to get results on the pitch. We should soon see a new right-back in Emil Krafth come in. We’re not too sure that there will be anyone else but hopefully another player will be signed as there is plenty of money available, or at least there should be.
If not, it has been a decent window with Joelinton, Allan Saint-Maximin, and Jetro Willems as impact additions in key areas. We are a little concerned about the players up front but there were a lot of chances created in pre-season. Miguel Almiron and Yoshinori Muto will also have their experiences from last season to build on. While it’s far from a perfect squad, it should be an exciting one to watch.