TWELVE MONTHS and one world class player later and Newcastle have been transformed from relegation fodder into genuine European contenders.
On the first anniversary of the Saudi takeover, marquee signing Bruno Guimaraes lit up St James’ Park with a virtuoso display.
Of the eight first-teamers Toon have splashed over £200million on over the last year, Bruno is the one already bordering icon status.
The poster boy of the new era, the Brazil international bagged a brace to move Newcastle into the top six with their biggest win under the new owners.
Steve Bruce’s side were 19th and starting down the barrel after nine games last term.
They are 10 points better off now under, and while cautious Eddie Howe doesn’t do predictions, even he will struggle to contain the excitement now.
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They were gifted two of the goals by some comedy Brentford defending, with keeper David Raya and Ethan Pinnock the main culprits.
Jacob Murphy and red hot Miguel Almiron were both on the scoresheet too and a Pinnock own goal ensured a stroll in the Tyneside sunshine.
Newcastle were unchanged from the 4-1 win at Fulham but Allan Saint-Maximin, who had been missing since August because of a hamstring injury, was on the bench.
Thomas Frank freshened his side up following the bore draw at Bournemouth with Aaron Hickey, Ethan Pinnock and Josh DaSilva all in.
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The Gallowgate unfurled a giant tifo celebrating the takeover before kick-off.
And they couldn’t resist a dig at talkSPORT’s Simon Jordan who, days before the controversial Saudis came to power, was adamant there was no chance of it going through.
Ramming his own words back down the outspoken pundit’s throat, a message read: “NUFC takeover ‘deader than a dead thing from dead land’”.
Fresh from his worldie at Craven Cottage, Almiron was at it again from the off.
Cutting in from the right, the Paraguayan bent another beauty towards the top corner – only for the flying David Raya to deny.
Bryan Mbeumo had it in the other net soon after but VAR intervened and spotted Ivan Toney offside and affecting play as Shandon Baptiste slipped a ball through.
Bruno was purring in the middle of the park from the off, and he scored his first of the season 21 minutes in.
A corner was cut back to Kieran Trippier, who whipped a brilliant ball to the back post.
Despite his new bleach-blonde trim, nobody picked Bruno up as he ghosted in from the top of the box and the Samba star nodded into the turf across Raya.
Seven minutes later and the points already looked wrapped up when Murphy, without a goal in 14 months, doubled the lead.
They won’t come any easier though thanks to Raya’s howler.
There was absolutely no danger but his shocking pass out was straight to Callum Wilson.
Toon’s No 9 is on a mission to make the England World Cup so few expected him to turn up the chance of a goal but, when one-on-one, he selflessly squared to Murphy to bury.
Brentford looked down and out but they were handed a lifeline when Dan Burn conceded a penalty for handling Aaron Hickey’s header back across goal.
Ex-Newcastle striker Toney does what he does best and fired into the corner.
But if it suddenly looked like turning into a nerve-jangler for the hosts, that man Bruno popped up again to make it 3-1.
The all-action dynamo created it for himself, robbing Hickey of it 45 yards out to the left.
How he then managed to advance to the top of the box unchallenged is anyone’s guess, but the finish was superb, drilling it low inside the near post to send the Gallowage wild.
And they weren’t done yet, though it was Pinnock’s awful pass this time offering Newcastle the helping hand.
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His back pass sold Raya horribly short and Almiron – a nuisance all afternoon – was on it like a flash to round the keeper and pass into the empty net.
And Pinnock’s day went from bad to worse minutes later when he spooned Joelinton’s late cross into his own net to cap a horror day for the Bees.
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