The sale of Kyle Walker, the absence of Danny Rose, or any new recruits, did not matter on their season’s bow. They stood up to the spirit of a newly-promoted side, who withered and then went, first through injuries, and then because of the most reckless of stamps from Jonjo Shelvey, early at the start of the second half.
Newcastle have not strengthened sufficiently themselves for such eventualities. Their best central defender from last season, Ciaran Clark, spent 82 minutes of the game at left back. The forward Dwight Gayle, who was declared fit on Friday, played 78 minutes. There will be the need for much more of the bravery Rafa Benitez dragged from a side he wanted to be sprinkled with more quality.
Only towards the first half’s close did Spurs begin to add purpose to their possession, but the contest became a mismatch once Shelvey was dismissed.
It would become the game’s defining moment in the 48th minute, and given that the player was handed the captain’s armband at the game’s start, with Jamaal Lascelles on the Newcastle bench, it was a thoughtless act.
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Dele Alli had been floored and then ignored by the referee Andre Marriner as he sought a free-kick, around 10 yards from the edge of the Newcastle penalty area. Shelvey, in his desire to get the ball, grabbed it, and in his frustration, planted his left boot (which looked deliberate in replay) onto the ankle of the Spurs player.
There was a brief double take as the enormity of the consequence of the mindless act began to sink in (wth Alli holding his foot) and Marriner produced the straight red which ended Newcastle’s brave resistance. Two players had already been forced off with injury by then, the left back Paul Dummett in the eighth minute because of a hamstring injury, and then, just past the half hour mark, Florian Lejeune, one of only two debutants on the field, limped off after unforgiving challenge from Harry Kane.
The physical power of Spurs was a theme throughout, but Benitez did not build this team for this division. They were bigger and quicker and stronger, but then Newcastle do not have £200m to spend on a player, as the Newcastle owner Mike Ashley said in an interview that was first screened on Friday. He was sat in the stands to watch a team that has had an outlay of less than £20m (net) spent on it since it was promoted as champions. It needs work, and the assumption had been so do Spurs.
That will remain a theme, and it is difficult to gauge at this stage where their title challenge lies. The front three of Kane, Christian Eriksen and Alli were excellent. Holding them together might be the most important bits of business that Tottenham and Daniel Levy undertake before September begins.
The triumvirate combined with style for the opening goal, in the 61st minute. Kane worked the ball wide to Eriksen, the cross was floated to find Alli and the England midfielder slid in at the far post.
Newcastle, a player short in numbers, on a hot day, were in dire trouble from there and by the 70th minute, they were out of the game. Alli flicked the ball to Kane this time, his first-time pass reached Ben Davies, and the left back steadied himself to coolly slot his finish past Rob Elliot in the Newcastle goal.
It was about damage limitation from there. Benitez brought on the holding midfielder Mikel Merino for his only striker, Gayle. Christian Atsu, who had been dangerous in the early stages of the game, struck a side-netting in the 83rd minute and Clark had a shot saved by Hugo Lloris.
Kane struck a post in the 91st minute when he looked set to add to the scoreline, and when it finished there was a hug between the friends Mauricio Pochettino and Benitez. They share a desire for new players, for differing reasons.
Newcastle (4-2-3-1): Elliot; Manquillo, Lejeune (Mbemba 34), Clark, Dummett (Lascelles 8); Shelvey, Hayden; Ritchie, Perez, Atsu; Gayle (Merino 78).
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Walker-Peters, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Dembele (WInks 90); Sissoko (Son 58), Alli (Wanyama 83), Eriksen; Kane.
Ref: Mr Andre Marriner