After a fortnight away following NUFC’s FA cup duties, ‘The Opposition Opinion’ is back once again ahead of Swansea’s visit to St James’ tomorrow, with us bringing you some thoughts from Wales 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 Swansea fans Gareth, whose had the following to say ahead of tomorrow’s six pointer at St James’:
1) Perhaps a silly question in the circumstances, but what have you made of your season so far this season & what shape do you feel you’re coming into this one in following Carvalhal’s recent appointment?
“Our season has been a disaster and I’d be lying if I said I thought it would be any different.
“The lack of creativity in this team is what’s killing us and the statistics will tell you that. The Sigurddsson saga dragged on forever, but the board knew he was going to go even the year before and we failed to bring in any sort of replacement. Many outsiders thought Renato Sanches was his replacement, but he has rarely played as a number 10 and his stats will tell you, even from Benfica, that he has nowhere near the influence that Sigurddsson can have on a team creatively and in terms of goals.
“It’s been really depressing to watch to be honest because even though the quality isn’t there, there has been a complete lack of effort against teams around us, especially in the games under Paul Clement.
“The only shining light of our season so far has been Fabianski. What a keeper he is.
“Our club is a shambles from top to bottom and we have gone from being a model club for the likes of Bournemouth, to an absolute embarrassment. We are paying the price for poor recruitment and shambolic decisions starting from 3 years ago.
“As Jonjo Shelvey recently stated, we have lost our identity and it doesn’t look like it’s going to come back anytime soon.”
“That being said, I believe we will fight under Carvalhal. We definitely look more assertive and less passive than we were under Clement, where our play was really negative, defensive and boring to watch in the end. We have started to shoot more on goal recently, which is always useful in this sport!”
“In terms of our form coming into this, we will have a bit of confidence from the Watford win and we had a good go at Tottenham in the 2nd half recently. We could have got some points that evening if it wasn’t for some shambolic refereeing.
“Carvalhal has given the players a lift and we have started to be bit more confident in our attacking play, albeit with little quality. Against Wolves in the cup (our last game) we struggled for large periods of the game and we were a bit lucky to not concede.”
2) What do you make of Newcastle’s season so far and our current side? Who do you see as the threats in our & is there any weak links (system and individuals) that you feel you can exploit on Saturday?
“I know lots of Newcastle fans and your manager were disappointed with your business in the summer and that frustration showed early in the season, but then you went on a decent run, which got you away from the danger zone, but after a dip in form recently you would argue that you’re back in danger again.
“The truth is, this league is so tough that anyone from 11th down could get relegated. You have a decent team and you can see that they are well drilled and each player knows their job.
“Atsu can be frightening on his day and if his end product is on it, he will be a massive threat. Ex-players of ours have a habit of scoring against us, so I’ll be keeping my eye on Jonjo Shelvey too.
:You lack a goal scorer at this level and a quality number 10 and at the back you don’t look as solid when you have injuries to key players, like Lascelles.”
3) Likewise, what and who do you feel are the strengths & weaknesses in your Swansea side? Any players to watch out for on Saturday for any particular reason?
“It’s very difficult to pick strengths to be honest as we are very poor, even though Carvalhal has made us a little more threatening going forward.
“Like I said, Fabianski is definitely our best player and has made lots of terrific saves so far this season. He definitely won’t be sticking around if we get relegated.
“Alfie Mawson has been disappointing at times this season and doesn’t appear as confident as last season, but he is still a centre back with lots of potential and a threat at set pieces.
“Wilfried Bony also played really well before his injury, especially against West Brom, Bournemouth and Stoke. We need his leadership and attributes if we are to have any hope of survival.
“I’d also watch out for Tammy Abraham (although he is a doubt). He hasn’t been great since his England call up and doesn’t seem to have the same drive. Since he was heavily linked with you guys in the summer, he definitely may want to prove a point.”
4) How do you see the match panning out? Score Prediction?
“I predict a close game. We have to win this game, it’s as simple as that. You guys could argue that it is a must win game for you too.
“I think we will win 1-0. I’m not overly confident with that prediction, but I think we will pinch it simply because we have to win.”
5) How do you see both sides faring over the season? Give us your predictions for rough league position for both?
“I honestly can’t see us getting out of this mess, unless we improve our squad drastically in this window and have a bit of luck on the way. We are by far the worst side in the division at the moment, the league table doesn’t lie, but you could argue that there are plenty of bad teams in the bottom half of the table this season.
“Newcastle are a big club, with a massive fan base and should be playing at this level. I do fear a bit for you though, as you do lack quality in attacking areas and seem to rely on Lascelles at the back. If you can get a few additions in January, I think you will be fine though.
“I predict Swansea to finish 20th (it pains me to say it) and Newcastle to finish 16th.”
6) Jonjo Shelvey – It’s two years to the month since he made a £12m move from Swansea to Newcastle. What are your thoughts on him both from his time at Swansea and now?
“I rated him initially at Swansea, even though he is a hot head and liability at times. He has undoubted ability and his passing can be unplayable as he has that ability to take multiple players out of the game with one pass.
“He lacked consistency for me, but he did produce magic now and again, for example, Southampton away in the scrappiest game ever and he scored a proper screamer to win us the game 1-0.
“His attitude towards the end of his time with us was hideous and in his last game for us in the cup, he was so lazy and rude to the fans who questioned his attitude.
“Watching him for you, I’d probably say he is the same as he was for us. Has good moments, but has moments of utter stupidity and laziness.”
7) Tammy Abraham – He’s a player Benitez was almost certain he’d signed on loan over the summer but he ended up joining you boys. What have you made of him so far?
“Tammy was an instant fans favourite when he played his first game as he had pure passion and wanted to hit the ground running straight away.
“In the first few months, he was so hard working and his movement and ability to be in the right place at the right time was there for all to see. He is still young and has a lot to learn, for example, against West Brom he was through on goal, one-on-one, Narsingh caught up with him and was alongside him for a tap in to an open net, but he decided to try and chip the keeper, which ended up going wide.
“He is a raw talent who will definitely go on and do big things, but the fact we have had to rely on him for most of the season, at his age, is ludicrous.
“I hope he can get back to his form earlier in the season and he isn’t helped by the lack of service, but since he has come back from his England call up, he doesn’t have the same drive and enthusiasm in my opinion.”
8) Finally, what would your combined XI be if you could pick a team from our two squads?
“4-3-3 – Fabianski – Yedlin, Lascelles, Mawson, Olsson – Britton, Shelvey, Merin – Ritchie, Bony, Atsu.”
Some interesting and thorough responses from Gareth here, who had a lot to say about his struggling Swansea side.
I found it interesting that he was so critical about his Swansea side, yet feels they will be up for it tomorrow and expects them to win. It does seem they have some renewed vigour following Carvalhal’s appointment mind, so he has some grounds to be optimistic.
Very interesting comments on Tammy Abraham – the man Rafa thought he’d signed over the summer. Seems as though he’s a huge talent but has not looked up for it of late.
We’ll be back soon with the thoughts of a Man City fan ahead of our daunting trip to the Etihad next weekend.
Massive game– HWTL!