Opposition view: Newcastle United
By Ric Turner, Wed 12 December 2012 11:32
Ahead of Saturday's game at St James Park, Bluemoon caught up with our resident Newcastle fan ChrisNUFC to get the lowdown on the opposition...
What are your expectations for this season?
At the start of the season I would've been happy with a top half finish and a decent run in Europe. Fair to say the start we have had has not lived up to the expectations thus far (Europe aside). However I still feel a top half finish should be achievable, providing we can get everyone fit and hopefully add a few new faces in January. Right now though I would settle for getting 40 points as soon as possible.
Are you happy with the manager?
Sure everyone remembers that Pardew was not exactly welcomed with open arms when he was appointed, however he has won over most of the doubters. I think he is doing a good job personally under difficult circumstances, and with a bit more support in the transfer market he could help us kick on to the next level and see us regularly competing for Europe (though Champions league is WAY beyond us as things stand).
His tactics have looked slightly suspect as the more direct 'style' of play has it seems been figured out by most teams. Also slightly worried that he has moved the team around to please individuals which has made us weaker as a unit (mainly by playing Ba centrally which is great for him as can be seen from his goals but has made us weaker as a team in my opinion).
However for where the club currently is I do think he is the man for the job (which given the 7 year contract is probably a good thing).
Who are your key players?
As mentioned Demba Ba is the main man for us in front of goal this year and we need him to stay fit.
Ben Arfa is usually the one who provides the creative spark and can make something happen out of nothing.
Colloccini is usually a rock at the back and without him we look (even more) vulnerable.
With the squad we have its crucial the above stay fit.
Were you happy with the business conducted during the transfer window?
In a word, no. It was predictable with the extra games in Europe the squad we had was nowhere near big enough. This has been brought in to contrast recently with the injuries to Cabaye, Steven Taylor, Ryan Taylor et al
Most of the new additions were ones for the future (Gael Birgimana, Roman Amalfitano, Curtis Good) however most of these have had to feature regularly in the first team due to the injuries.
It's so frustrating as after last year a few quality additions could of helped us capitalise on the momentum but Ashley has a plan and is sticking to it rigidly.
Are there any rising stars in the squad that we might not have heard of?
Shane Ferguson has been one of the pluses so far this season, has looked comfortable whenever called on and has also recently one full international honours lots of promise for the future.
Also honourable mentions to Gael Birgimana and Sammi Ameobi (last one for name quality alone)
Your Achilles heel?
Squad size. I like to think our first 11 is fairly strong but when any of those are injured the replacements are nowhere near the required standard.
If you could have any City player in your team who would you choose?
David Silva without a doubt. Could watch the fella all day. You are so lucky getting to watch a player of his ability week in week out.
What is your perception of City as a club?
I'm of an age where I can remember your well documented struggles and stick you had to endure despite which you continued to attend in numbers which has always earned my respect.
I genuinely like City, now living in and around your good city my perception may well be skewed somewhat, but I have always preferred you to that other lot and I don't prescribe to all this you bought the league and you have no history nonsense. I think it's very pleasing to see the underdog* be rewarded and challenge at the very top as it gives hope to the rest of us. You could clearly see how much last season meant and it's nice to see a proper club enjoy success as opposed to assuming it is a divine right.
*hope this doesn't come across as condescending, that is not my intention.
Likely starting XI for the game, and score prediction?
Simpson Williamson Colloccini Santon
Gutierrez Anita Tiote Ben Arfa
I will put my optimistic hat on and go Toon 2 (Ba, Ben Arfa) City 2 (Tevez, Aguero).