Bangkok Post

New era starts for Newcastle

Magpies host Spurs after Saudi takeover


LONDON: Struggling Newcastle find themselves in the unusual position of being the Premier League’s headline act at the start of their Saudi-led revolution this weekend.

So often consigned to the margins during decades of underachie­vement, all eyes will be on the club tomorrow when they host Tottenham in their first match since the controvers­ial takeover that has Magpies fans dreaming of joining Europe football’s elite.

Manchester United must defy injury problems as they look to get back on track at Leicester, while leaders Chelsea cannot underestim­ate a Brentford team unfazed by big reputation­s.


Newcastle can suddenly look forward to a brighter future thanks to the blockbuste­r £305 million (US$418 million) takeover driven by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which has taken an 80 percent stake in the club.

The departure of disliked former owner Mike Ashley and the vast financial resources provided by the Saudis could turn Newcastle into a major force in years to come.

But while they aim to emulate cashrich Manchester City, for now they must focus on the fight for survival.

The only way is up for the Magpies, whose new owners arrive with the team languishin­g in the relegation zone, winless after their first seven league games.

Manager Steve Bruce is expected to make way for a high-profile replacemen­t but Newcastle have confirmed he will take charge of his 1,000th match as

manager tomorrow when the Magpies host Tottenham.

Amnesty Internatio­nal has criticised the takeover, accusing Saudi Arabia of “sportswash­ing” its human rights record.

But Newcastle midfielder Jonjo Shelvey said it was a much-needed boost for long-suffering fans of a club that last won major silverware in 1969.

“This is unbelievab­le for the club. I understand what the fans want, they want [Kylian] Mbappe and [Lionel] Messi,” he said. “That won’t come overnight, we have to be realistic. But this club can achieve anything it wants now. The sky is the limit.”

MAN U’S REALITY CHECK After the adrenaline rush of Cristiano

Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford, reality has started to bite for Manchester United.

Ronaldo’s goal spree at the start of his second spell with United following his move from Juventus papered over some cracks in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side that threaten to derail their bid for a first major trophy since 2017.

Hampered by inconsiste­nt attacking play and defensive blunders, United have won just two of their past six games in all competitio­ns.

A home League Cup defeat against West Ham and a limp draw in the Premier League with Everton raised serious questions about their title aspiration­s.

France defender Raphael Varane will be sidelined for several weeks

with a groin injury, while fellow centreback Harry Maguire is not certain to return against Leicester today after a calf problem.

With fourth-placed United facing Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City over the next month, there is no time for Solskjaer and company to lick their wounds.


Off the pitch, the financial gulf between European champions Chelsea and their west London neighbours Brentford is vast, but today’s first league match between the clubs for 74 years could be a lot closer than it appears on paper.

While the Blues can call on some of the most expensive players in Europe, their unheralded neighbours have returned to the top flight for the first time since 1947 thanks to the shrewd use of analytics in the transfer market and manager Thomas Frank’s tactics.

The Bees have already bloodied the noses of some of their more illustriou­s top-flight peers, beating Arsenal 2-0 and holding Liverpool to a thrilling 3-3 draw.

Chelsea’s hopes of retaining their narrow lead at the top of the table rest on matching Brentford’s intensity levels, with N’Golo Kante’s return from the coronaviru­s providing a boost for Thomas Tuchel’s side.

 ?? AFP ?? Newcastle supporters pose outside St James’ Park after the sale of the club to a Saudi Arabia-led consortium.
AFP Newcastle supporters pose outside St James’ Park after the sale of the club to a Saudi Arabia-led consortium.

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