After Saturday’s alarming 3-0 defeat at home to Watford, we’re back with the ‘Opposition Opinion’ with some thoughts from the Midlands ahead of tonight’s crucial trip to face fellow strugglers, West Brom.
As ever, we are looking to bring you a view from the other side before tonight’s game, interviewing an opposing fan to gain their opinions on NUFC, some insights into their own club and their thoughts on of our upcoming match.
This week we’ve been speaking to Baggies fan James, who has had the following to say ahead of our trip to The Hawthorns tonight:
Q1) What have you made of your season so far? We’re keen to know what sort of shape you’re coming into tomorrow’s game in?
“With the club backing Pulis in the transfer window, I found myself quite optimistic about the season ahead.
“I’m quite a grounded and a level headed fan when predicting our season, so with our squad, a top half finish with maybe a little cup run or two seemed well in our grasp. How wrong was I!
“This season has been disappointing, predictable and very frustrating for us Baggies fans. With too many bad results and poor performances, we find ourselves with just 2 wins from our last 21 Premier league games.
“We are now sitting just above the drop zone with a squad that looks out of ideas, with players that have their heads down and are clearly not performing to the level they and we know they’re capable of.
“Worth mentioning we don’t currently have a manager, but I will talk more about HIM later. Now Pulis is gone and with a great result v Spurs last week, I really hope our season will take a turn for the better. Starting tonight.”
Q2) What do you make of our start to the season & Newcastle’s current side? Who do you see as our threats & is there any weak links in our team that you feel you can exploit?
“I think Newcastle have been a little hit and miss so far and I’m sure you Toons would agree that you could be playing better and picking up more points.
“But this is the Premier league. You tend to get punished when you take your eye off the ball and you find because you don’t get as many chances on goal, those ones you do get and miss… come back to bite you on the bum!
“Obviously you’re on a bad run of form lately which is the one thing I hope we exploit tonight by getting an early goal and putting you under the cosh early doors.
“I think you have some good players but it’s clear Rafa would want to improve a lot more if given the chance.
“One player i do like is Shelvey. He can be a real threat on his day. He has that wild side to his game (which i like to see sometimes) but when I’ve seen him on his game he can run the show.
“I also like Gayle too. Quick and can finish. Those are the 2 Albion need to be careful of tonight for me.
“In terms of weaknesses, you’re clearly not the same force defensively without Lascelles.
“Based on what I saw on Match of the Day against Watford, you’ll concede a few if we put you under enough pressure”
Q3) Likewise, who do you feel are the strengths & weaknesses in your West Brom side – any players for us to watch out for on Saturday for any particular reason?
“I think our weakness has just been sacked!
“When Pulis first came he was great and steadied the ship. He’s since failed to adapt his style and use the qualities within the squad we now have. He was holding these players back and didn’t attack.
“Now he’s gone I think we’ll see a better West Brom. We’ll be more attacking.
“Phillips out on the right is the man you need to watch for me. He can beat a player with ease and show real quality. He’s been a bit hit and miss this season but like I said, I think the attacking players will start to improve a lot more now Pulis has gone!
“Weaknesses for The Albion….I would say maybe Rondon. He doesn’t score enough and goes down too easy for me – especially when you see how big he is! He’s a player that needs to find himself and impress the new manager.”
Q4) How do you see the match panning out? Score Prediction?
“I think it will be an open game to be honest. Two teams that really need a win to kick start this season again.
“No surprise, I’m going for an Albion win, but that’s because Pulis has gone. The team look like they’ve had a cloud removed from around their heads and it’s also Megson’s last game before the new gaffer comes in.
“2-1 Albion for me.”
Q5) How do you see both sides faring over the season? Predictions for rough league position?
“I think we will both be fine.
“New manager for us will hopefully give us new impetus for rest of season amd create a good vibe around the club again.
“Newcastle just need a result to break that run. A takeover will hopefully happen and give the club a boost.
“Can see us finishing the season quite close to each other – I’ll say Albion – 12th, Newcastle – 14th.”
Q6) After Pulis’ sacking, we’ve seen former NUFC boss Alan Pardew heavily linked with the job. What are your thoughts on Pulis’ sacking and the prospect of Pardew being appointed?
“As you may have picked up in previous answers, I’m glad Pulis has gone. I think 99% of fans will agree.
In the end, he didn’t have a plan B. He stuck to what he thought was right – that tried and tested Pulis way that makes his team hard to beat. And in the end, he wasn’t even that.
“Our attacking players were stifled by his tactics. Fans got bored of his style of football. It was for the best. Thanks for everything but we move on, thank god!.”
“Now to his replacement, it’s looking like Pardew.
“Last week when asked, he wouldn’t have been my choice. I was hoping for more of a Koeman to come in. A big name so to speak.
“Pardew seems to start well at a club and then fades out… but don’t all managers these days?
“With having Pulis restricting players, I’m hoping Pardew will come in and attack more. Let the shackles off and let players express themselves.
“He likes his wingers so to me thats suggest he will go on the front foot and that’s what we want to see here now. A change of style.
“Will it work? Who knows, but we should back him, get behind him and see where he takes us.
“I wish him good luck and welcome him to the club.”
7) And finally – if you could make a combined XI from our two squads, what would yours be? (be honest!)
“(4-4-2) Foster – Nyom, Evans, Lascelles, Gibbs – Phillips, Shelvey, Krychowiak, Ritchie – Gayle, Rondon”
With Pulis gone, a good result at Spurs and Pardew on his way, it seems West Brom may have a spring in their step tonight if James’ assessment is anything to go by.
Matty Phillips is clearly one to watch tonight and a player he rates. Manquillo will need to be much better tonight with that in mind.
A big thanks to James for taking some time to speak to this week, giving us another good read to whet our appetite for tonight’s game at West Brom. A big, big game for both clubs.
We’ll be back later this week with the thoughts of a Chelsea fan ahead of our trip to Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Here’s hoping for a much improved performance and much needed result tonight – HWTL!