What Alan Pardew Learned in Newcastle's Pre-Season Friendlies in Germany
Newcastle United rounded off the Schalke 04 Cup in style on Sunday with a comprehensive 3-1 victory over their hosts in the Veltins-Arena.
The Magpies’ performance was a vast improvement on the 3-1 defeat to Malaga the previous day in a tournament that saw them finish second overall behind the Spaniards.
Manager Alan Pardew used both fixtures to good effect over the course of the weekend, and he gave the vast majority of his squad a run out in Gelsenkirchen.
So as the Geordies head home with the start of the Premier League season moving ever closer, Bleacher Report looks at five things the Toon boss learned in Germany.
Rolando Aarons Could Be Newcastle’s Secret Weapon This Season
The aim of any young player in pre-season is to grab whatever opportunities that come their way and give the manager something to think about ahead of the new campaign.
And in the case of Rolando Aarons, he did all of that and more against Schalke, crossing for Emmanuel Riviere to head Newcastle in front before netting a goal of his own after the break.
The pacey winger was a genuine contender for the man of the match award and posed a constant threat down the left-hand side, using his pace and trickery to great effect.
There may have been a touch of fortune about his goal, which was a classic cross-come-shot, but that slice of fortune was the least he deserved after an exciting display from the young Jamaican.
Saturday's Collapse Against Malaga Was a Cause for Concern
As far as Newcastle United fans were concerned, there was an air of depressing familiarity about the way their team caved in during the first half against Malaga on Saturday.
On too many occasions last season, the Magpies simply capitulated at the back, conceding three or more goals seven times in their last 15 Premier League fixtures.
And those shortcomings were there for all to see once more against the Spaniards.
By the time some sense of order had been restored after the break, the damage had already been done, and such dramatic collapses must be eradicated when their Premier League campaign begins in two weeks.
Gabriel Obertan Has Earned 1 Final Chance
It’s fair to say the vast majority of Newcastle United supporters had written off Gabriel Obertan this summer, and an exit from St. James’ Park seemed inevitable.
The Frenchman, however, may have earned himself one last shot at redemption this weekend after impressing in both fixtures in the Veltins-Arena against Malaga and Schalke.
The 25-year-old, who joined the Magpies from Manchester United in 2011, made just five appearances in all competitions last term, and was assumed surplus to requirements.
But his goal on Saturday, followed by an effective shift down the right the following day, could see the winger given one last chance to prove he has what it takes in the top flight.
Newcastle's New Signings Have Quickly Settled in
One of the biggest positives to come from Sunday's 3-1 victory over Schalke was the impact made by some of Newcastle United's new recruits.
Riviere continued his fine pre-season form, nodding the Magpies in front with a deft header in the first half—his second goal in four games this summer.
Jack Colback, a free transfer arrival from local rivals Sunderland, looked increasingly comfortable in central midfield, while Remy Cabella earned the official man of the match award despite only being on the pitch for 32 minutes.
The French international looked lively going forward, and he opened his account for the Toon with a neat finish that effectively ended the game as a contest.
Grounds for Optimism After Sunday's Win over Schalke
While it’s often unwise to read too much into pre-season friendlies, Pardew can take a lot of positives from Sunday’s convincing win over Schalke.
Against Champions League opposition in their own stadium, the Magpies controlled the game for long periods in Gelsenkirchen, and looked a threat going forward until the very end.
Mike Williamson’s return to the back four brought a calming presence, while eye-catching displays from Obertan and Aarons on either flank gave the Toon an ideal outlet.
And while no one will be getting carried away on Tyneside, the failings of the opening 45 minutes against Malaga were quickly forgotten following a convincing display.