NEWCASTLE UNITED were thrashed 5-0 by Man City at the Etihad Stadium.
And Toon fans remain on the edges of their seats over the club's proposed £300m takeover from a Saudi Arabian consortium, which could bring the good times back to St James' Park.
Follow ALL of the latest updates right here...
COUNTDOWN TO KICK-OFF
Can the Toon bounce back from the disappointing loss to Manchester City?
Kick-off at Vicarage Road is 12.30pm tomorrow.
According to the Telegraph, Newcastle are in talks over the transfers of two players.
Sadly for eager Toon supporters, those potential arrivals are unnamed for the moment.
However, it is said that their arrival would take place REGARDLESS of the current talks over the sale of the club.
Steve Bruce has hit out at the idea Newcastle are stagnating under Mike Ashley.
Many fans are hoping for the Saudi-led takeover to push the club up the table, but the manager has warned them to be careful what they wish for.
He told reporters: “This myth that the club is just stagnating, it is not right. And it is important we try to address that. We have got a chance to have our third-highest points total in the last 14 years – and in one of those, we finished fifth.
“We’ve only been out of the Championship for three years, and you only have to look at some of the teams below us that are struggling to see how strong the Premier League is. You look at Watford and wonder why they are near the bottom, then you look at West Ham, Aston Villa and Bournemouth, and all the money they’ve spent.
“This myth that we are just stagnating and we’ve got this horrible stale environment, it’s not right. We are gradually improving, and the more you are in the Premier League, the more you improve and the better players you have. That is our aim – to keep improving.”
Gary Neville has claimed that Premier League VAR officials are “frightened” to overrule decisions made by the on-site referee.
In most leagues implementing video technology, it is customary for the on-field official to consult a pitch-side monitor for big decisions.
He tweeted: “On VAR. Send the Ref to the screens for goodness sake!
“The 'we know better' than Europe way is failing badly. The officials off-site are frightened to death to overrule on-site colleagues.”
Southampton and Sheffield United fans were left fuming with VAR when Newcastle claimed wins at the respective red-and-white striped teams earlier in the year.
CALLING THE FEDS
Newcastle United are set to rival Manchester United for Fiorentina winger Federico Chiesa, according to reports.
The 22-year-old has impressed at the Serie A giants since breaking into their first team back in 2016.
His impressive performances have earned him a regular place in Roberto Mancini's Italy squad – as well as admiring glances from Old Trafford.
But according to La Nazione, Newcastle are considering a club-record £53.7million move for La Viola's No25.
The move, however, is likely to hinge on whether the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund's controversial £300m takeover from Mike Ashley is ratified by the Premier League.
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce has sated he is baffled by why Watford are so low down in the Premier League.
He said: “When you look at what Watford have got on paper then you wonder why it's been a struggle, but that's the Premier League.
“Nigel [Pearson] has done a wonderful job in turning them round.
“It will be tough tomorrow, that's for sure, so we better get ready for it.”
Steve Bruce has stated that Ciaran Clark is unlikely to play again this season due to injury.
He said: “We've got one or two knocks from the other night.
“Emil Krafth is a concern but we've got one or two coming back which is always good.
“I would doubt we'll see Ciaran Clark again this season but Florian Lejeune might be available towards the end of next week.”
A HELPING HAND
The Premier League will introduce a new, amended handball rule next season – which would have seen some high-profile disallowed goals this term stand.
Recent efforts from Harry Kane and Riyad Mahrez are among those to have been chalked off by VAR this season.
Both were disallowed because of the ball striking an arm in the build-up – but the International Football Association Board (IFAB) have agreed to relax the handball law next term.
Currently, if the ball has struck an arm in the lead-up to a goal, it is to be disallowed by the on-field referee.
But next time out, goals will only be ruled out if the handball occurs “immediately” before the effort goes in.
This wording suggests that the essence of the rule is that a player cannot score directly with their arm – with intent inconsequetial.
Under the new law, Kane's effort against Sheffield United and Mahrez's late fifth against Liverpool would have been allowed to stand.
Steve Bruce has provided an update on the fitness of Allan Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almiron and Jamaal Lascelles ahead of the trip to Watford.
He said: “We'll know a little bit more when we train this afternoon but we hope Almiron, Saint-Maximin and Lascelles will be OK.
“That will give us a hand.
“The other night we were badly beaten but we had too many of our big players unavailable.”
The Saudi group trying to buy Newcastle have reportedly told Napoli they are ready to bring star defender Kalidou Kouilbaly to the Toon.
FootMercato suggest Koulibaly could be signed for as much as £90million.
He would be the marquee signing to welcome in a new era at St James' Park.
But when will the takeover from Mike Ashley finally get the green light?
STUCK IN THE MIDDLE
Steve Bruce has revealed why he started Fabian Schar instead of Matty Longstaff in their 5-0 loss at Manchester City last night.
The Toon boss said: “Matty’s only been training for the last week.
“So I thought it was a big call for him as well to get him started.
“I wanted to have Fab Schar. He’s been playing in midfield in the training ground area, and I wanted to have a look at that.
“We could talk about formations and this, that and the other, and players playing where they were playing.
“I thought those two were arguably our best performers.”
GOOD MORNING TOON FAITHFUL
Newcastle will look to make Kalidou Koulibaly their first marquee signing once their takeover bid goes through, according to reports.
The Toon are closing in on becoming the richest club in world football once their £300million Saudi-backed deal finally gets the green light.
It is being backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund led by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.
And he will waste no time attempting to turn Newcastle into a powerhouse of world football.
According to Foot Mercato, they are already looking into the possibility of landing Napoli's highly sought-after centre-back Koulibaly.
The report adds that they have made a 'verbal offer' and tempted him with a lucrative long-term contract.
Koulibaly will not be short of potential suitors this summer after Napoli put him on the market for around £70million.
Manchester United, Man City and Liverpool are all believed to be locked in a transfer tug-of-war for the Senegal international.
Napoli club president Aurelio De Laurentiis has already admitted he will cash in if he receives the right offer.
Meanwhile, Steve Bruce and his side will be back on the training pitch today looking to put Wednesday’s 5-0 drubbing at Man City out of their minds.
They travel to Watford for the lunchtime kick-off tomorrow as they hope to bounceback from that hammering.
YOUNG AT HEART
Hear from Jack Young.
The 19-year-old had a bit of a rude awakening last night when he was involved in his first matchday squad for Newcastle's first team.
The Magpies got battered 5-0 but he will hope to push for opportunities on the field.
🗣 “I'll just keep working hard for the next one.”
Jack Young spoke to NUFC TV earlier after the 19-year old was involved in a first-team matchday squad for the first time last night.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) July 9, 2020
Newcastle talisman Allan Saint-Maximin was notably absent from the drubbing at Man City on Wednesday night.
The Frenchman was thought to be struggling with an injury but Football Insider sensationally report he was just exhausted.
He has started all of the Toon's games since lockdown and appears to have run himself into the ground.
The 23-year-old was sorely missed as the Magpies were pumped 5-0 at the Etihad.
ASHLEY NOT PAYING RENT
The Chronical Live have reported that Ashley is holding back rent payments the Fraser Group until trading levels go back to normal.
The group consists of chains such as Sports Direct, House of Fraser, Flannels, Game, USC, Evans Cycles, Agent Provocateur and Jack Wills.
This move is due to a slow month following the reopening of the chains following lockdown because of COVID-19.
What this means for the Newcastle United takeover remains to be seen, but it could be construed as a sign that Ashley is hoping for a deal to be finalised sooner rather than later to help subsidise his other ventures through a challenging time.
POCHETTINO ON THE HORIZON?
According to Mundo Deportivo Newcastle United could be the 48-year-old Mauricio Pochettino's next destination.
Steve Bruce could have the reigns taken away from him at St James’ Park after the Magpies appointed him as Rafael Benítez’s successor last summer.
Newcastle have managed only 11 wins in 34 league games, which put's them in13th in the Premier League.
According to the Spanish outlet, Pochettino ‘is close to Newcastle’, meaning Tyneside are set to replace Bruce.
RIO'S FAITH IN BRUCE
Following yesterday's game Rio Ferdinand believes Steve Bruce “warrants a chance” of managing Newcastle United if a takeover is complete.
Speaking on BT Sport before the match against City he said: ''It’s difficult, though, in a situation like this, with the takeover potentially coming through at Newcastle,''
“There’s not loads to spend, you’d imagine. If that continues, and he stays as the owner, he’s got that way to think about it, but he’s also got a plan just in case, if the new owner comes in, and there’s huge money to spend. It’s not easy.
“He doesn’t know the levels. For instance, right now, he’s probably on a shoestring budget under the current ownership.
“It’s something I’m sure he’s never had to do before. Listen, he’s eight points better off than last season, with Rafa Benitez before, who the fans loved.
“He’s doing better than he was doing. You’d like to think he would get a chance under the new ownership. The grass isn’t always greener somewhere else with a fashionable name or whatever. This guy knows what it’s like to manage clubs like this.''
Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer watched on as Newcastle United gave an embarrassing performance against Manchester City.
After the match, the Newcastle legend and fan was asked to talk about what he had just watched.
Speaking on Match of The Day Alan Shearer said: ''I think it is safe to say Alan, that Newcastle didn’t have the (Gary Lineker laughs) best of evenings and in fact we’ve got another graphic we can show you.
''City have set a new record for best passing accuracy, 93.7% of their passes, 840 passes as well, which shows you Newcastle didn’t see an awful lot of the ball…''
“Well I know Newcastle had players out injured but that was awful.
“Too many players didn’t give enough and I just felt they accepted defeat too easily.
“They had the attitude of: we’ve got players out, we’re playing Manchester City, we don’t expect to win, and they were beaten before they walked onto the pitch, which was very disappointing.”
Steve Bruce is asking for a vote of confidence from fans after Newcastle's dire display at Manchester City on Wednesday night.
The Magpies face relegation-threatened Watford at Vicarage Road (12.30pm) with Bruce warning his players not to let standards slip in the remaining four fixtures.
Fans watched on in horror as the Magpies were thrashed by City with Bruce's side producing just one shot on target during the 5-0 defeat.
Bruce said: “Look I hope we are not going to be judged on playing Manchester City.
“Because we have tried to come and play against them and basically the team we played against were far too good.
“What the supporters would want to see is more resilience than we put up that night.
“We're not the first team, they have just beaten the champions 4-0.
“To play against this mob twice in a week or so behind closed doors is not easy, let me tell you but I still expect us to perform better and put up a bit more of a show as we did.''
Premier League clubs are edging towards a September 12 start date for next season, reports MARTIN LIPTON.
But that would put the League Cup under serious threat – and spell the likely end of FA Cup replays as well.
League chiefs had proposed three potential starting weekends for the 2020-21 season, August 22 and 29 and the September date.
September 5 is impossible because it falls in the middle of what will be first international break since last November.
League chiefs were keener on an early start for a season that must finish by May 16 because of the fixed requirement for a rest period before the delayed Euro 2020.
But that would have opened the possibility of Manchester City, Manchester United and Wolves all missing the opening weekend if they are still involved in the rescheduled Champions and Europa League mini-tournaments.
Amanda Steveley – who is embroiled in a £1.6 billion High Court battle with Barclays – was referred to as a “dolly bird” and a “tart” by former bank chiefs, a judge has heard.
The terms used by two then Barclays bosses to describe Staveley, in a telephone call during the financial crisis 12 years ago, emerged at a High Court trial on Thursday – as she awaits news of the takeover of Newcastle United.
Richard Boath referred to Ms Staveley as “that dolly bird” during an evening call with Roger Jenkins in October 2008.
Mr Jenkins referred to her as “the tart”.
Ms Staveley, 47, has made complaints about the behaviour of Barclays bosses when negotiating investment deals during the 2008 crisis 12 years ago.
She says Barclays agreed to provide an unsecured £2 billion loan to Qatari investors, but the loan was “concealed” from the market, shareholders and PCP Capital Partners, a private equity firm she runs.
PCP is suing the bank and wants £1.6 billion in damages.
SHEARER: TOON BEATEN IN TUNNEL
Alan Shearer has blasted United's players for giving up before they went out on to the pitch at Manchester City.
Steve Bruce's side have exceeded expectations in their recent league run, but were thumped 5-0 by Pep Guardiola's side.
The ex-world record transfer Shearer said: “I know they had players out injured but too many players didn’t give enough. I just felt they allowed defeat too easily.
“They had the attitude that ‘okay, we’ve got players out, we are playing Manchester CIty and we don’t expect to win’.
“They were beaten before they walked out onto the pitch, which was disappointing.”
GOOD MORNING TOON FANS
Newcastle fans have Hatem Ben Arfa to thank for having Alan Saint-Maximin at St James' Park.
The French winger, who has been in fabulous form, revealed: “There were a lot of players, like Yann M’Vila, though he wasn’t at Newcastle, he was in Sunderland.
“He spoke to me. Hatem spoke to me.
“I talked with a lot of players. They said to me it’s a great club, a great city and the supporters are great.
“Everything is great. This is why I came. I said ‘I know I want to be there’.
“Everybody told me (to join). Some players in Arsenal said to me ‘it’s a great stadium with a lot of people.’”
Meanwhile, George Caulkin of The Athletic has weighed into the Newcastle takeover debate.
Speaking on the Pod On The Tyne podcast he said: “The very simple rule of thumb is that money wins, and that’s not something I particularly like, but it tends to be a fact when it comes to the Premier League.
“I’ve always thought that finally, ultimately, eventually, money will win – and I suppose I mean Saudi money – yes, coming into Newcastle but also coming into the Premier League and that there is a way of making that work for everybody.''
Finally, some of the senior advisors to the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince who are bidding to buy Newcastle are being targeted in a crackdown by Foreign Secretary Dominc Raab.
On Monday evening, Raab published a list of over 40 people – 20 of them Saudi who have been thought to have ''committed the gravest of human rights violations.''
Fifteen were officers involved in the “unlawful killing of Jamaal Khashoggi” and some worked in the Crown Prince's office.
And they included Saud Abdullah Al Qahtani a “former advisor to the Crown Prince in the royal court”.
Conor McGregor, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua are in the top five for money earned per day's work.
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MAGPIE IN THE SKY
It's been a dreadful night for Newcastle at the Etihad.
They've been thumped 5-0 by Man City.
READ OUR FULL MATCH REPORT HERE.