Happy New Year folks! No stopping the football however, with ‘The Opposition Opinion’ back again this week ahead of our trip to Stoke today and we’ve brought you some thoughts from the Potteries ahead of this one.
Here we’re looking to bring you a view from the other side before each and every game this season, 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 Stoke City fan Will, whose had the following to say ahead of our trip to face Mark Hughes’ men today:
Q1) What have you made of your season so far & what sort of shape do you feel you’re coming into today’s game in?
‘We’ve been absolutely abysmal for 2 years now.
“We have an incompetent, stubborn manager who still doesn’t know his best team/formation and treats the fans like mugs in every press conference.
“We have owners and a board who seem completely oblivious to the situation we’re in and just keep pumping out the same old rhetoric week after week.
“The players don’t own a spine amongst them, some openly liking opposing team’s celebration tweets after getting pumped yet again, and another who has admitted to the team giving up. So in short, it’s an absolute disaster.
“We rested our 2 best players against Chelsea, knowing we were going to get thrashed and that Newcastle was a far more important game. That in itself makes me feel like throwing up in my mouth. We’ve become everything I hate about this league, spineless, sterile, also rans with no character whatsoever.
“We have the unwanted tag of also having the worst defence now in Europe’s top leagues. Yet Hughes still remains in post. With the team he picked at Chelsea and yet another hammering taken (14 times we’ve conceded 3 or more since the start of last season) Newcastle could finally be Hughes’ last game in charge should we lose.”
Q2) What have you made of our start to the season & Newcastle’s current side? Who do you see as our threats & is there any players/areas that you see as weak links in our team that you feel you can exploit?
“You had a great start to the season and surprised everyone. The problem was always going to be a lack of investment.
“Like us, you simply didn’t spend enough and the lack of a goal scorer looked like it could be your undoing even before a ball was kicked.
“At the reverse fixture back in September this was even more apparent as Joselu had enough chances to score a hatful against our porous defence. The lack of firepower he gives you up top is a clear weakness.”
“On the flip side, Shelvey should have a field day against Darren Fletcher, who has lost the ability to tackle and constantly chases shadows.”
3) Likewise, where do the strengths & weaknesses lie in your Stoke side? Any players for us to watch out for today for any particular reason?
“Weaknesses is easy. We’re a laughing stock at the back.
“On paper we have as good a goalkeeper and centre halves as anyone outside the top 6. On grass, we’re weak in the tackle, don’t concentrate and appear to be constantly running through treacle.
“Strengths. Shaqiri when on song carries this team, and Joe Allen’s work rate has been second to none.
“Both were rested against Chelsea so I’d expect them both to be firing on all cylinders (although Shaqiri has been ineffective/uninterested in recent weeks).”
Q4) What sort of game do you think it’ll be & how do you see the match panning out? Score prediction?
“It’ll be one for the purists I’m sure!
“I’m expecting a nervy affair with both teams knowing even at this early stage what an important game this is.
“I’m expecting both teams to score, so I’ll go 2-1 Stoke as Hughes has the knack of getting a result when he’s most under pressure.
“Anything other than a win, and he’s gone.”
Q5) How do you think both sides will fare over the remainder of the season? Predictions for rough league position & the three teams you think will go down?
“I think we’re both in real trouble, and wouldn’t be surprised if we’re the 2 teams that join West Brom in the Championship.”
Q6) Joselu – As you know we signed him from you boys for £5m over the summer. I thought he’d be seen as a back up option but he’s ended up starting most weeks. What are your thoughts on him? (From both his time at Stoke & bits of what you’ve seen of him at NUFC)
“I think most Stoke fans feel that he was never really given a chance here at Stoke, like every striker that Hughes seems to sign.
“He looked fantastic in pre-season and I was sad to see him go, purely because he was an unknown quantity.
“He hasn’t set the world alight up there, and given how little service our strikers get at Stoke, it was probably the right move for him and us.”
Q7) Finally, if you could make the best possible combined XI out of our two squads, what would yours be?
‘(4-2-3-1) Butland – Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett – Allen, Shelvey – Atsu, Shaqiri, Choupo-Moting – Crouch‘
Interesting to see he’s not picked a single Stoke defender. He’s clearly been left highly unimpressed by them at the back this season and that’s not surprising in fairness – they’ve conceded 46 goals in 21 games already!
We’ll be back next week with the thoughts of a Swansea fan ahead of yet our latest crucial game at the bottom at St James’ Park.
Another big big game– HWTL!