After feeling upbeat and positive about Newcastle United’s prospects against Manchester City last week, I wrote an article about our chances that many of you may have read. Perhaps next time I should write less from the heart and more from the head. I’m going to try again, this time about this Saturday’s match against Manchester United.
I have to be honest. I was disappointed with the City score. On another day we could have had four of five- but if you don’t take your chances against top class opposition, you’re always likely to finish on the wrong end of the result. It’s definitely a match we can learn from though. On another day, we wouldn’t have given away two penalties, and a few more of our shots might have found the back of Joe Hart’s net.
Ironically, after the defeat to City, I heard more positive praise from pundits than I have done for any of our previous matches this season. Dan Walker, presenter of Football Focus, commented on Twitter that he was impressed with us. Even Paul Merson struggled to criticise us saying that we played ‘very well’ and that prior to City scoring their first, they were ‘running out of ideas’.
After a few days to move on and forget about the result, I feel that we played relatively well in places. As mentioned, we could have had at least one goal before City scored, which would have made the game an entirely different prospect. As it was, two bits of poor defending from a usually solid Ryan Taylor gifted City a comfortable lead, and from then on we were always chasing the game. It’s something which is pretty hard to do against the league leaders.
For me it’s only positive from here. We have played the team, who on current form, are the best in the league by a mile. We can go into the match against United knowing that again, we’re expected to get beat. But if we win, it will be massive for the team, and it’ll be an illustration of just how good we can be.
I think more NUFC fans are hopeful of a win this week than last. Against City, we did pretty well to keep the game competitive, in my opinion, against a team who are streets ahead of us financially (and on the pitch). This week the outlook is somewhat better. Our squad still seems positive, so much so that Yohan ‘dreamboat’ Cabaye gave an interview claiming Newcastle will go into the game with United ‘playing for a win’.
I feel the game against United is a game we could definitely get something from. I mean really get something from. Not like last week’s ‘I feel we’ll give City a shock’. But really more than we are expected to against the perennial title challengers.
Following their draw against Benfica in mid-week, Manchester United will be looking to bounce back in the league. They best Swansea away last week, but only narrowly. And with Rooney and Welbeck doubtful, their ability to freely score goals is dramatically compromised. It’s in midfield, however, where I feel that Newcastle can really prosper. United have looked poor in the middle of the park so far this season, lacking the drive or guile of previous seasons in which the likes of Paul Scholes have controlled the game. They have been a much better midfield side with Tom Cleverley included, but with him out injured, the door really is ajar for Newcastle to come in and steal something especially with the hope that Cheick Tiote will be fit again and ready to rekindle his midfield partnership with Cabaye.
Manchester United have looked quite poor in my opinion for the last few weeks. I say poor, but obviously they have to have been pretty good to be sitting in second place. But for United, they don’t seem to have that usual spark Fergie’s teams normally have. As I have already said, it’s well documented how poor their midfield has looked this season, and with our midfield arguably being one of the best in the league, twelve games in, we have a real chance of going to Old Trafford and coming away with something.
I really hope we can get something. To me, this match is more of a test than last week. Newcastle were always likely to be on the wrong end of a hammering from City, if you were to believe the pundits, but it never really happened. Yes we lost, but it wasn’t the battering many had predicted. This week we face the red half of Manchester who look far inferior to their neighbours, so it’s not impossible we could go there and surprise a few.