We are now just days away from potentially seeing the true financial might of Newcastle’s new owners with the January transfer window on the verge of opening.
However, before that, Eddie Howe will have to negotiate a tough test against another Premier League side who have a new manager in Ralf Rangnick’s Manchester United.
It will have been eight days since the Magpies last played which has presented them with an incredibly rare opportunity for the players to have a break during the festive season.
It was much-needed too, especially after the Toon were beaten horrendously by a rampant Manchester City team who put four past Martin Dubravka last time out.
The game started in the worst possible way for Howe’s side as dreadful defending saw City score a simple opener.
Joao Cancelo knocked the ball back from the byline line and instead of heading clear, Ciaran Clark ducked under the ball which meant a simple tap in for Ruben Dias who was left unmarked just yards from goal.
It was a truly unforgivable mistake from the centre-half and one that was slammed by club legend Alan Shearer.
The former striker said of Newcastle and Clark’s defending:
“The way Newcastle defended, if it wasn’t my team I would say it was laughable, but it was anything but that.
“Then [the Clark mistake] happens. You wouldn’t see it in an under-10s game, this wouldn’t happen.”
For Shearer to essentially describe the Irishman as worse than an U10 speaks volumes but this isn’t the first time he’s let his side down at a crucial point.
Take the Norwich City game for example. Teemu Pukki rolled in behind and was clean through on goal but Clark brought him down in a cynical fashion and he was shown a red card.
It’s evident that Newcastle’s backline needs desperately improving.
Heading into Christmas, the Magpies had shipped more goals than any other team in the top-flight (41) and had one of the worst defensive records in the highest four divisions of English football. Only Morecambe and Peterborough United (44) had let in more strikes throughout the campaign than Howe’s men.
Clark has been a big reason for that and as a result, he simply has to be axed from the starting XI this evening against United.