Tonight we take on Scunthorpe United in the second round of this seasons Carling Cup where the same old argument will no doubt raise it’s head. How strong a team should we put out?
Last season we fielded weakened teams against Accrington Stanley and Chelsea before bowing out to eventual runners-up Arsenal in a 0-4 thumping. As with most topics on football blogs, opinion was divided last season when Chris Hughton saw it fit to put a possible cup run on the back burner.
I personally thought Chris Hughton done the right thing as staying in the Premier League was all I really wanted from last season and resting first team players helped them dismantle the stinking Mackems in the demolition derby. But with the benefit of hindsight, and Birmingham City winning the Carling Cup there were some disgruntled supporters among us with cries of “if we put out a strong side, we could have won some silverware!” Well possibly, but it’s all ifs and buts.
Onto the match itself and as ever we shall start by taking a look at the home team.
New signing Oliver Norwood will go straight into the squad for the match after securing a loan move from Manchester United. Whether or not the highly rated Northern Ireland gets the nod to start is a different matter however. In terms of injuries Scunthorpe only have one to contend with as Paul Reid is out with a groin injury. He’ll more than be replaced by Niall Canavan.
Last time out Scunthorpe managed a rather creditable 2-2 draw away at Charlton Athletic although it’s well worth pointing out that they have yet to win in the league this season with their sole victory to date having come as a result of this competition when they beat Accrington Stanley in the last round.
Alan Pardew is likely to shuffle the pack for the game tonight as several players who are short of games and fitness will get a run out and a chance to impress. Sylvain Marveaux will make his debut while it’s thought that the likes of Sammy Ameobi and Haris Vuckic will be called upon. Joey Barton will miss the match as he finalises a move to QPR although he would have missed the game with a foot injury anyway. He might not even be at the club by kick-off time to be fair.
This is where the whole subtle point about team strength comes into the equation. How far do you go? A trip to Wembley would be amazing and a Cup win would certainly make supporting Newcastle United a different experience from the pain and anguish that we are accustomed to, but for me, I’d go with a second string side this time round too. It’s a great chance for our fringe players to try to prove what they’ve got and with players like Steve Harper, Peter Lovenkrands, Demba Ba and Mike Williamson having to be content with bench warming duties, we are hardly short of experience.
That’s why I’d quite like to see something along the lines of this: Steve Harper, James Perch, Mike Williamson, Tamas Kadar, Shane Ferguson, Sylvain Marveaux, Haris Vuckic, Dan Gosling, Peter Lovenkrands, Leon Best, Demba Ba.
A bit of a mix of youth and experience, and more of the same on the bench – youth for if things go well, experience to turn to in case things don’t.
As much as I would love a trip to Wembley, I just don’t see it as a priority. I would be happy to see fringe players featuring in the Carling Cup until the Quarter Finals at least. Maybe then, if things in the Premier League all look good, a stronger side can play and hopefully lead us to a great day out in the smoke.
First things first though we need to get past Scunthorpe. I’m sure we all remember what happened there in the Championship and whilst they have dropped to League One these days it doesn’t mean that a result is a given. Sky will be there wanting an upset and we need to make sure we don’t give it to them. It’s a banana skin of a fixture and the boys need to ensure that they remain professional and try and avoid doing another Stevenage.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on the team. Would you go with a second string team or would you play the strongest team possible? Do we go for the cup or do we treat it with the same contempt and disdain as shown by Neil Warnock at QPR when they went out to MK Dons on home turf on Tuesday?
Let’s see your teams!
Howay the lads!
Date: Thursday, 25th August, 2011.
Ground: Glanford Park.