The Opposition Opinion – Swansea (A)

With Newcastle three games into their return to the top flight, we are looking to bring you a view from the other side before each and every game across the season, interviewing an opposing fan to gain their thoughts on NUFC, some insights into their club and their feelings ahead of our upcoming game.

This week we’ve been speaking to Swansea fan Seab, who’s had the following to say ahead of this Sunday’s clash at St. James’ Park:

Q1 – What have you made of your performances so far this season? Interested to know what sort of shape you’re feel Swansea are in coming into this one.

“Well we’re three league games in and I’m still not sure exactly how we’re feeling at the minute.

“The Southampton game – we were pretty terrible and were lucky to cling on for a point. Which, as you guys will know is always going to be a decent result most of the time away from home.

“Being steamrollered by United was – let’s be honest – somewhat expected. We capitulated in the space of 4 minutes like we did against Spurs at the end of last season and that was it. Game over. Realistically I looked at the game as how well we coped against the (probable) title winners this year and we held them off in the most part of 80 minutes apart from a scruffy pre-half time goal.

“The Palace win away was great for us and good to register some shots on goal (finally!). Though I think the result flattered to deceive – we were decent, but Palace were pretty terrible. In between that, we had the 4-1 away win against MK Dons, which briefly I believed could have been something of an early banana skin and been a pretty big slip up, but we put them away pretty comprehensively.

“Team-wise I don’t think Clement has settled on what he wants to do yet. He’s probably going to revert back to his preferred 433 as he did last season, but he’s been experimenting with a 532-come-352 with wing backs against United and Palace. It actually worked pretty well against United – highlighted by the fact that as soon as we took off Bartley and reverted to 4 at the back was the exact point we got hammered. My concern is that we don’t have the CB cover to man a 3-man central defence, especially with Bartley now injured.”

Q2 – What do you make of Newcastle’s current side? Who do you perceive to be a threat & is there any weak links in our team that you feel you could exploit?

“It seems like there’s been quite a bit of a rumbling under the surface with discontent on your guys lack of summer signings and what Mike Ashley’s been up to recently.

“I still think you’ve got plenty there to do damage to teams with the likes of Mitrovic and Shelvey (if they keep their heads cool) and Pérez. It’ll be interesting to see how Krul gets on elsewhere in the Prem and hopefully he’ll get back up to speed to go back to you guys next season.”

“You’ve kept hold of Gayle too and I think he’ll do you well this season.”

“Any team that’s got Rafa at the helm ought to be doing well as long as you keep hold of him!

“We’ll definitely have to capitalise on Mitrovic being banned for our match and I can imagine our lot will probably be getting in Shelvey’s ear to get him hot under the collar to make an error.”

3) Likewise, who do you feel are your strengths & weaknesses in the Swansea side – any players to watch out for on Sunday?

“We’ve shipped off a bit of deadwood from the team over the summer, but losing the big guns of Llorente and Sigurdsson is really going to hurt us for quite a while. I think some Swansea fans overstate Gylfi’s exploits – personally I found he had a period of 5-10 games last season he went completely missing and his set pieces went fairly terrible – but we can’t deny he nearly singly handedly kept us up.

“Coming in we’ve pulled off signing Renato Sanches on loan – which is quite frankly a crazy signing – in a good way! We’re finally seeing Clement use his contacts to pull some players in. Sanches will be brilliant I’m sure, but I do have concerns how well he’ll cope with the rough and tumble of the Prem compared to his previous exploits.

“I don’t think we’re sure yet where he’s going to be played – either as a pacey attacking midfield or maybe further wide? Some fans are expecting him to play a bit deeper, but we’ve got plenty of cover in that area with Britton, Fer and now Roque Mesa and Clucas.

“Clucas was an odd signing I didn’t see coming, but we’ll see how that turns out. Mesa looks like he could take some warming up but he’s in that similar Leon Britton mould of defensive midfielder and looks like he’ll fit in really well eventually.

“Tammy Abraham could be an inspired loan signing and honestly – from what I’ve seen of him – he really looks the business. I’d be surprised if Chelsea don’t at least try to get him in their first team next season.

“Again – another Clement contact working out here. Then there’s Bony. Chants of ‘Come on Wilfried Bony’ are already reverberating around Swansea and the neighbouring valleys a week before the game. It’s a signing that’s gotten fans excited. Swansea fans love an old player coming back it seems and admittedly – I did catch myself going wild, wild, wild about it on Twitter rather briefly. If we can ‘feed the Wilf’ and get him up to his best, we’ll be in for a decent season.

“If he’s now just the Bony that has barely had much game time for the last two seasons, we may have just wasted a fair chunk of cash and lost a World Cup winner in process… ouch.

“At the back – I touched on the new-style three at the back above and I think we’ll bring that out maybe away from home or against the big-guns to hold off a massacre. But it looks like we’ll be starting the same as last season, Olsson/Mawson/Fernandez/Naughton at the back and unlike some, I’m happy with that.

“Olsson loves getting forward in the same way that Ben Davies used to (still sore that he left!) and Mawson loves a set-piece goal. Fernandez has recently been given captain and appears to be growing into that role and is better for it.

“Weaknesses I’d say wide men. We’ve put our faith in Routledge and Dyer for many years. I love Montero but he’s struggled terribly with injury and has been shipped off to Getafe on loan and we binned off Barrow (who I thought was great) to Reading.

“Narsingh has just not got used to the Premier League and I don’t think he will. I don’t particularly rate Jordan Ayew too highly – great Championship level forward but lacks consistency for this level. The saving grace of the lack of decent wide men though is that we don’t appear to be using a system that requires them so much.”

4) How do you see the match panning out? Score Prediction?

“I can see it being a bit of a tentative affair to start, especially post-international break and then will open up in the second half.

“As above, fans will be giving Shelvey a bit of grief and deafening you guys with ‘Come on Wilfried Bony’ for 90 minutes!.  

“Likely to be an unpopular prediction but I’m feeling 2-1 or 3-1 to the Swans. Another cheeky Abraham 6-yard goal, a written-in-the-stars Bony comeback strike and an absolute worldie from Renato Sanches and probably Shelvey getting one as we always seem to let goals in from ex players.”

5) How do you see both sides faring over the season? Predictions for rough league position?

“I can see us doing better than last season. Whilst we don’t have Fernando or Gylfi, we won’t have issue of an ill-timed Guidolin sacking or a Bob Bradley situation.

“Clement looks like the real deal and I’m hoping we can hold on to him as long as we can until someone will come along and eventually snap him up.

“We’ll have two young loan players looking to make a name for themselves and hopefully lighting the pitch up. Whilst I can’t say we’ll be troubling the top 8, I reckon 10-12th.

“For you guys, I reckon you’ll be safe and probably looking about 14-16th? Despite their great start I can see Huddersfield dropping down the pecking order, followed by Brighton and I’m not sure who else. Bournemouth and Palace will be in the mix I think.”

6) Jonjo Shelvey. As we both know, he made a £12m move from Swansea to Newcastle in January last January. What are your thoughts on him and what sort of reception do you think he could get?

“I thought Jonjo was a decent player for us. He gave us something different when he was playing compared to our usual style.

“We used to love keeping the ball on the floor and keeping hold of it until going forward with it and taking a chance.

“Jonjo had a cracker of a right foot on him that – on a good day, land a screamer of a long-ball on a five pence. It gave us that option for the occasional long-ball.

“But for every one of those, there was another that missed and then – there was his attitude. If he keeps his head down and works hard he can be a phenomenal player – He’s got goals, he’s got assists and can distribute the ball fantastically.

“When he was with us, he played his best games in the attacking mid role – but that was usually filled by Gylfi meaning Jonjo was pushed back deeper, meaning he’d be getting more stuck in to the tackles and getting in to trouble.

“After his somewhat less-than-friendly departure from us after that cup game against Oxford he’s always going to get a bit of a roasting down here. The fans in the North East corner won’t hold back and will probably be doing their best to get him provoked into a lunging tackle and getting booked.”

7) Earlier this summer it looked as if we were all set to sign Tammy Abraham on loan – as we all know that didn’t happen & he joined Swansea instead. What have you made of him so far?

“Well I touched on Tammy above and he could be a masterstroke of loan signing, however, as we all know, there’s a massive jump in quality from the Championship – where he was banging them in for fun – and the Premier League.

“It did appear for a while that our season may have been resting on his rather young shoulders and his goals but luckily we’ve also now had Bony and Sanches in to help back him up.”

“From what I’ve seen so far – he seems like he will live up to the hype.”

“He’s a big lad who can impose himself on defences and has all the flicks and tricks of a man very confident in his own abilities.

“For him, playing here will be a chance for him to be a big fish in a relatively small pond rather than hunting for scraps and minutes at Chelsea. That hunger is what I’m hoping will bag us a hatful of goals and stellar performances to put us in good stead for a mid-table finish.”

“He’ll also be wanting to keep himself in contention for the England U21s. He does appear to occasionally get frustrated quite easily at a loose ball or missed pass but I can see that down to him maybe being a bit of a perfectionist and eager to show his ability.

“I’m hoping Clement will get the best out of him and I think a lot of Swans fans would have been wishing we’d stuck in a future fee in the loan deal to keep him down the line, but that wasn’t on the cards so to me it looks like he clearly has a future in Chelsea’s senior team.

“I didn’t actually know that he was linked with you guys initially – I can only assume that was down to Clement using his strong contacts (and apparently he visited Tammy too) to persuade him down here. Then he probably took one look at the view down Gower with a Joe’s ice cream and he was sold!”

An interesting assessment from Seab who gave us a fantastic insight into tomorrow’s opponents, also sharing some interesting opinions on NUFC.

Next week we’ll be bringing you the thoughts of a Stoke City fan, as we welcome The Potters to St. James’ Park next Saturday.

For now though, let’s hope for a good result tomorrow – HWTL!



(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at [email protected] & we’ll get back to you!)

About Olly Hawkins

Born in Gateshead, Olly was a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan – he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

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