Aug 2, 2017
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Three things we learnt from Newcastle’s pre-season victory over Wolfsburg

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Newcastle United managed to win their penultimate game of pre-season against Wolfsburg by a 3-1 scoreline.

Despite conceding a lot of possession to start with, the Magpies grew into the game and offered the bigger threat going forwards.

Jonjo Shelvey was pulling the strings, while Ayoze Perez caused problems with his movement in the final third.

The first goal was a simple finish for Aleksandar Mitrovic and the lead was added to by a superb Matt Ritchie free-kick before half-time.

Wolfsburg got back into it through Yunus Malli from the spot, but a strike from Christian Atsu sealed the win for the Magpies.

Here are three things that we learnt from the Magpies victory…

Aleksandar Mitrovic remains a frustrating talent

The Serbian splits the Newcastle fan-base and he showed why in Germany.

There are a group of supporters that want the club to cut their losses with him this summer, due to his inconsistency and unreliability on the pitch. Meanwhile, others believe that he is a huge talent and worth persevering with for the next season at least.

Against Wolfsburg, he netted the opening goal and got into goal-scoring positions regularly. He caused the Bundesliga side problems, but it wasn’t a flawless performance by any stretch of the imagination.

Mitrovic has always been a hot-head and that is a side to his game that hasn’t improved as much as Rafa Benitez would have hoped since he took charge of Newcastle.

He was booked in the first-half after an altercation with the goalkeeper, as he let frustration get the better of him.

Benitez knows that he can’t rely on the striker to stay out of trouble and that makes him a liability when he is on the pitch. His body language makes him seem uninterested at times and his movement can be poor.

There is a player in there and at the age of 22, he remains at the start of his career, but he needs to show signs of maturing soon, or his future will be away from St James’ Park.

Jonjo Shelvey will be key to Newcastle this season

Since arriving back for pre-season training, it has been obvious that Shelvey is looking forward to returning to the Premier League.

He has slimmed down over summer and appears to be in the best shape of his career.

The England squad will be his target and if he has a strong, consistent and uncontroversial season for the Magpies, he has a chance of making it to the World Cup.

Benitez will want his team to play counter-attacking football and the passing ability of the midfielder is vital to making a success of it.

Against Wolfsburg, he was the main creator of the side as he was getting on the ball in dangerous areas and consistently picking the right pass to create a promising opening for the team.

Perez and Atsu benefited from it time and time again, as their movement gave Shelvey the opportunity to display his playmaking quality.

For the third goal, the centre midfielder showed a different side to his game, as he burst in behind the opposition defence and was composed in the area skipping past a challenge before putting it on a plate for Atsu.

His decision making is improving rapidly and he will be fun to watch this season.

Newcastle need another striker

This was known before the match, but the changes made by Benitez on Wednesday highlighted it even more.

Mitrovic has been discussed above and he was the player leading the line against Wolfsburg. He may be frustrating, but the Magpies can’t afford to sell him as he is one of only two natural strikers in the squad.

The Serbian was taken off at half-time and Perez was moved into the lone front role.

Although he can play there, he is better in a deeper role and Newcastle would be taking a risk entering the season with him as their third-choice centre forward.

It could be that Benitez was using Perez there in Germany to send a message to the board that he needs a stronger squad.

Dwight Gayle didn’t feature and that was probably Benitez protecting the player ahead of the new season.

The Englishman is vital to Newcastle and any injury would significantly damage their chances of starting the season strongly.

They need to move fringe players on to improve their finances, but a new striker is a must. If they don’t sign one, it could prove to be a costly mistake.

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Newcastle United
Jake Jackman

Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

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