Opposition view: Newcastle United

By Ric Turner, Wed 27 March 2013 08:27

Opposition view: Newcastle United

Ahead of Saturday's game at The Etihad, Bluemoon caught up with Ed Harrison from The Newcastle United Blog to get the lowdown on the opposition...

What are your expectations for the rest of this season?

We are currently 13th in the league table and in the quarter finals of the Europa League – so after having a very poor first half of the season we could do well in the final run-in. We would hope to finish in the top ten in the Premier League and get as far as we can in the Europa League.
We play Benfica in the quarter finals – and we must stand a fair chance of
reaching the last four if we can play somewhere near our best form in
those games.

Are you happy with the manager?

I am personally happy with Alan Pardew, although some fans don't think
he's very good. But it seems Mike Ashley has great faith in Pardew, who
went 13 games in the league when we lost 10 of them – ending in the 2-1
defeat by Reading at home.

Most managers would have been fired with that record, but Mike stood by
his manager.

But in the week following, Mike Ashley brought in Yanga-Mbiwa, Massadio
Haidara, Yoan Gouffran and Moussa Sissoko - and we had already brought
Debuchy into the club in the first week of January.

And the five Frenchmen have made an enormous difference and we also now
have Yohan Cabaye and Steven Taylor back form injury.

Alan Pardew was the Premier League Manager of the Year and the PFA Manager
of the Year last season – and you don't suddenly become a poor manager

Who are your key players?

Yohan Cabaye, Moussa Sissoko, Steven Taylor, Ben Arfa, Tim Krul and
Fabricio Coloccini are our best players, but the last three are out
injured at the moment.

Were you happy with the business conducted during the January transfer

Really happy – we got in five top French players for just £18M – although
we missed out on Loic Remy who preferred to go to QPR – heaven knows why –
although rumors were that they offered him ridiculous wages.

Are there any rising stars in the squad that we might not have heard of?

Davide Santon is a 21 year-old Italian International left back – but he
may not make the game because of an injured hamstring. And 23 year-old
Moussa Sissoko, who we bought from Toulouse in January is going to be
some player. Pardew gives him a free role up front and he's 6'2” tall and
very fast – he's not a bad player either and is a French International.

Your Achilles heel?

The defense is still our weakness – and we concede too many goals - that's
been our weakness since we came back into the Premier League in 2010 after
one season down below.

If you could have any City player in your team who would you choose?

Carlos Tevez – and Alan Pardew worked with him when he was manager of West
Ham - he's a terrific player.

What is your perception of City as a club?

The best team big money can buy – the owners have paid out extremely high
transfer fees for players - and paid out huge wages too. Only now are the
club trying to get their finances under control. For the financial year
ended last June Newcastle will actually make a profit for the first time
since Mike Ashley bought the club in the summer of 2007.

Likely starting XI for the game, and score prediction?

I think we'll still have Krul, Coloccini and Debuchy out injured - so
assuming Davide Santon is fit - this could be the side:

Simpson Yanga-Mbiwa Taylor (S) Santon
Gouffran Cabaye (c) Tiote Marveaux

We'd be very happy to come away with a 1-1 draw.