First impressions count. Unless it’s in a pre-season friendly match.
Such games, played out in front of a few thousand of only the most dedicated just two weeks after work has started again, is never a place to judge anyone.
However, if Siem de Jong carries on like this then Newcastle United supporters are in for a real treat.
The Dutchman, made captain on his debut, strolled all over the pitch with a casual arrogance that so many footballers from his country possess. And on this evidence, this guy has got something about him.
Okay, so it’s pre-season when the only really important thing is nobody gets injured. The result didn’t matter either. Honest. It’s never great to lose, but Oldham’s goals came after a rash of substitutes. Only those desperate to see the negative will read anything too deeply into the result.
De Jong looked the part playing in behind Adam Armstrong. It made you keen to see what he will be like once all his new team-mates are together.
This was only as strong a team as United manager Alan Pardew could put out given the players still away, have just this moment signed and those who aren’t quite here yet.
Hatem Ben Arfa was nowhere to be seen, by the way. I think we can take it that any last chance has been and gone. Jack Colback was there, as was Mehdi Abeid whom we didn’t expect to see much of at any stage as he’s set to rejoin Panathinaikos. As it is, we saw about two stone more of the midfielder. It looked like muscle as well.
Yoan Gouffran was full of effort, he charged about the pitch as if his life depended on it. Something of a change from the jaded figure we saw over the final few months of last season. And so to the actual game in which De Jong took all of 14 minutes to make an impression.
A determined run from young Rolando Aarons was halted illegally a few yards from the Oldham box by Mike Jones.
The Dutchman took responsibility for the free-kick and while his first effort hit the wall, his second found its way into the top corner of the net.
De Jong then ran towards the travelling support, arms stretched out as if to say: “What’s the big deal?” Aarons, for whom much is expected, caught the eye with some clever play and a few forceful runs, one of which took him down the right wing and his cross picked out De Jong.
His attempted finish in this instance was perhaps too nonchalant.
Newcastle came close a second on 26 minutes. An Abeid corner found another man who could well be on his way, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, whose header found Gouffran inside the box. His effort was first time and on target, only for Oldham left-back Joe Mills to get his body in the way. Oldham’s best chance up until then came before half-time when their impressive left winger Jonathan Forte’s pass gave Jones a chance to run into the box, but a perfectly timed Steven Taylor challenge sorted that out.
An even better opportunity came about three minutes after the restart.
A mistake by Vurnon Anita – and let’s hope this is the last time we see him at right-back – allowed Jonson Clarke-Harris more than a sniff of goal. And he would have scored had Jak Alnwick not made a fine block with his legs.
A few minutes later and half-time replacement Sammy Ameobi passed up a decent chance when he headed wide at the back post, following a good cross from Aarons.
The game did get a bit untidy when the plethora of substitutions began.
The most notable for Newcastle was Ayoze Perez getting on. The Spaniard’s introduction to English football was an accidental hand in the face of James Wilson.
And the home side clicked up a gear, perhaps sensing Newcastle were happy to see out the game.
One of Oldham’s subs, Timothee Dieng, scored on 68 minutes when he rose well above everyone else head the ball in from a corner.
And then with eleven minutes to go, the wonderfully named Willy Gross ran through and squeezed his shot under Anwick.
It could have been more had Connor Brown got his shot on target when closing in on goal.
That was annoying, but it wouldn’t have overly concerned Pardew, if at all.