Newcastle’s new era under its Saudi Arabian-led owners got off to a woeful start as Tottenham came from behind to beat Steve Bruce‘s side.
Watched by the club’s new non-executive chair Yasir Al-Rumayyan and part-owner Amanda Staveley, Newcastle must have hoped they were seeing signs of a positive new future as Callum Wilson returned from injury to head the hosts ahead after two minutes, and St James’ Park went wild with delight.
That start must have also given optimism to Bruce, marking his 1,000th game in management as he clings to hope he may continue in the job.
But then reality struck for a team yet to win in eight Premier League games this season as Spurs scored twice in five minutes.
First, Tanguy Ndombele fired in a right-footed drive, before Harry Kane scored his first league goal of the season when he beat the Newcastle offside trap to dink in, the goal awarded by the video assistant referee after initially being ruled out.
The game was then halted when a fan suffered a medical emergency in the stands.
Supporters and players – including Eric Dier – played their part in alerting medics to the seriousness of the situation before the game was suspended.
Play resumed with seven minutes of the first half remaining, and Tottenham extended their lead when Son Heung-min slid in at the back post for his fourth of the season.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, who moved up to fifth in the table, looked comfortable in the second half as the mood turned sour towards Bruce, with home fans calling for him to be sacked.
A poor audition to stay in the job was made worse when substitute Jonjo Shelvey received a second yellow card for a rash challenge on Sergio Reguilon after 84 minutes.
And despite a brief response when Dier’s own goal made it 3-2, the result left Newcastle next-to-bottom of the table with a huge transformation needed to turn the club into the superpower that the new owners hope for.
Prior to kick-off, there was a carnival atmosphere outside St James’ Park and around the city.
There were some fans who celebrated the Saudi Arabian-backed takeover by wearing headdresses and draping themselves in Saudi flags, but the overwhelming majority answered the call to wear black and white as they celebrated a new era after Mike Ashley’s 14-year reign came to an end.
Inside the stadium, the Gallowgate End was a sea of black and white as supporters waved flags and unveiled a banner, which was an ode to a Jimmy Nail song about the city and rebuilding hope for the future.
It must have been an uplifting sight for Al-Rumayyan, who was attending his first game in his capacity as the governor of the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which now owns 80% of the club.
He broke out into a huge grin as Wilson scored early on from Allan Saint-Maximin’s cross, while Staveley hugged her husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi.
But the way Tottenham opened up the Newcastle defence showed how much work is needed to take the club to the top end of the Premier League, let alone into contention to win the title. The priority this season is to avoid relegation.
And the result will not have given Bruce any further security about his job.
After reports last week that he would be sacked, with the club then saying he would remain in charge for this game 45 minutes before his pre-match press conference on Friday, his future remains unclear.
But this was a demonstration of a team struggling for form despite the positivity which has swarmed around the club this week, and with little chance of the game turning Newcastle’s way, chants of “We want Brucey out” came from the Gallowgate End after 74 minutes and continued until the end, when the final whistle was met with boos.
It was a message that would have been heard loud and clear by the new owners.